United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. Sneed, Judge
Darrell Ervin, seeks judicial review of the denial of his
claim for a period of disability, disability insurance
benefits, and 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 a period of disability on August 13,
2012. (Tr. 109-10.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's
claims both initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 109-10,
135-36.) Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing.
(Tr. 179.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a
hearing at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr.
48-84.) Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly
denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 29-47.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council, which the Appeals Council denied. (Tr. 1-4.)
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
who was born in 1967, claimed disability beginning on June
30, 2010. (Tr. 230.) Plaintiff attended special education
classes throughout high school and received a high school
diploma. (Tr. 57-58.) Plaintiff's past relevant work
experience includes work as a commercial cleaner and a
janitor. (Tr. 74.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to back
pain, poor vision, and a left arm impairment. (Tr. 310.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since June 30,
2010, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 34.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the severe impairment of right
eye blindness. (Tr. 34.) Notwithstanding the noted
impairment, 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. 37.) The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work
at all exertional levels but with the following
[Plaintiff] can perform jobs that require no fine visual
acuity such as found in assembling work. He retains
sufficient vision to read documents or newspapers. He can
perform no jobs requiring distance vision, defined beyond 15
to 20 feet. He cannot perform jobs requiring work around
heights, balancing or around hazardous equipment.
(Tr. 37-38.) 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. (Tr. 39.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform his past relevant work. (Tr. 40.)
Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 41.)
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. 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 ...