United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. SNEED UNTIED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Frank Bedami seeks judicial review of the denial of his claim
for supplemental security income. As the Administrative Law
Judge's (“ALJ”) decision was based on
substantial evidence and employed proper legal standards, the
decision is affirmed.
filed an application for supplemental security income on
October 16, 2013. (Tr. 158.) The Commissioner denied
Plaintiff's claims both initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 82, 88.) Plaintiff then requested an
administrative hearing. (Tr. 94.) Upon Plaintiff's
request, the ALJ held a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared
and testified. (Tr. 35-58.) Following the hearing, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff not disabled
and accordingly denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits.
(Tr. 21-30.) Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review from
the Appeals Council, which the Appeals Council denied. (Tr.
1.) Plaintiff then timely filed a complaint with this Court.
(Dkt. 1.) The case is now ripe for review under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
Factual Background and the ALJ's Decision
Plaintiff, who was born in 1954, claimed disability beginning
on September 15, 2011. (Tr. 158.) Plaintiff has a high school
education. (Tr. 192.) Plaintiff's past relevant work
experience included work as an industrial worker. (Tr.
192-93.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to a pinched nerve,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a heart condition, and
carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 191.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since October 16,
2013, the application date. (Tr. 26.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, history
of atrial fibrillation status post ablation, and carpal
tunnel syndrome. (Id.) Notwithstanding the noted
impairments, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 27.) The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium work, limited
to frequent fingering bilaterally with “fine
manipulation of items no smaller than the size of a
paperclip, ” frequent handling of objects bilaterally,
no more than concentrated exposure to irritants such as
fumes, odors, dust, gases, or poorly ventilated areas, and no
more than concentrated exposure to hazardous machinery or
unprotected heights. (Tr. 28.) In formulating Plaintiff's
RFC, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints
and determined that, although the evidence established the
presence of underlying impairments that reasonably could be
expected to produce the symptoms alleged, Plaintiff's
statements as to the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of his symptoms were not fully credible.
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as an
industrial cleaner. (Tr. 30.) Accordingly, based on
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, RFC, and the
testimony of the VE, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled.
entitled to benefits, a claimant must be disabled, meaning
that the claimant must be unable to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result
in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). A “physical
or mental impairment” is an impairment that results
from anatomical, physiological, or psychological
abnormalities that are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(3), 1382c(a)(3)(D).
Social Security Administration, in order to regularize the
adjudicative process, promulgated the detailed regulations
currently in effect. These regulations establish a
“sequential evaluation process” to determine
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. If
an individual is found disabled at any point in the
sequential review, further inquiry is unnecessary. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a). Under this process, the ALJ must
determine, in sequence, the following: (1) whether the
claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful
activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment,
i.e., one that significantly limits the ability to perform
work-related functions; (3) whether the severe impairment
meets or equals the medical criteria of 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; and, (4) whether the claimant can
perform his or her past relevant work. Thus, the social
security regulations used to determine disability
“place a very heavy burden on the claimant to
demonstrate both a qualifying disability and an inability to
perform past relevant work.” Moore v.
Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing
Spencer v. Heckler, 765 F.2d 1090, 1093 (11th Cir.
1985)). If the claimant cannot perform the tasks required of
his or her prior work, step five of the evaluation requires
the ALJ to decide if the claimant can do other work in the
national economy in view of the claimant's age,
education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a).
A claimant is entitled to benefits only if unable to perform
other work. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-42
(1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(g).
determination by the Commissioner that a claimant is not
disabled must be upheld if it is supported by substantial
evidence and comports with applicable legal standards.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197,
229 (1938)); Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400
(11th Cir. 1996). While the court reviews the
Commissioner's decision with deference to the factual
findings, no such deference is given to the legal
conclusions. Keeton v. Dep't of Health & Human
Servs., 21 F.3d 1064, 1066 (11th Cir. 1994).
reviewing the Commissioner's decision, the court may not
decide the facts anew, re-weigh the evidence, or substitute
its own judgment for that of the ALJ, even if it finds that
the evidence preponderates against the ALJ's decision.
Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th
Cir. 1983). The Commissioner's failure to apply the
correct law, or to give the reviewing court sufficient
reasoning for determining that he or she has conducted the
proper legal analysis, mandates reversal. Keeton, 21
F.3d at 1066. The scope of review is thus limited to
determining whether the findings of the Commissioner are