United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
B. SMITH, United States Magistrate Judge.
brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act
(“Act”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) and1383 (c)(3), to obtain judicial review of a final
decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying
her claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income under the Act. Upon a review of the record, I
respectfully recommend that the Commissioner's final
decision in this case be AFFIRMED.
filed for benefits alleging that she became disabled on June
25, 2013, due to fibromyalgia, pain (body, hands, abdominal),
allergies, and issues with her blood pressure and thyroid
(Tr. 174-190, 220). Her applications were denied initially
and on reconsideration, and she requested and received a
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) (Tr. 109-127, 30-67). On the date of the
hearing, Plaintiff was forty-seven years old, with a GED and
past relevant work experience as a customer service
representative (Tr. 22-23, 33-36, 221).
24, 2015, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled (Tr.10-29).
The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review
(Tr. 1-8), making the ALJ's June 2015 decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff brings this action
after exhausting her available administrative remedies. The
issues have been fully briefed, and the matter was referred
to me for a report and recommendation.
determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ must
follow the five-step sequential evaluation process in 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4) and 416.920(a)(4).
Specifically, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant:
(1) is currently employed; (2) has a severe impairment; (3)
has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals an impairment listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; (4) can perform past relevant work;
and (5) retains the ability to perform any work in the
national economy. See Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d
1232, 1237-1240 (11th Cir. 2004). The claimant bears the
burden of persuasion through step four and, at step five, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to prove that other jobs
exist in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n. 5 (1987);
Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1241 n.10.
case the ALJ performed the required sequential analysis. At
step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date
(Tr. 15). At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
suffered from the severe impairments of fibromyalgia; a
history of hypertension; hypothyroidism; arthritis; and
obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)) (Tr. 15). At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (Tr.
17). Next, the ALJ decided that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
with additional restrictions. Specifically, the claimant is
capable of: lifting and carrying up to 20 pounds on an
occasional basis and 10 pounds on a frequent basis; standing
and/or walking for approximately six hours during an
eight-hour workday; and sitting for approximately six hours
during an eight-hour workday. The claimant is limited to work
that allows her to sit or stand alternatively, at will,
provide [sic] a person is within employer tolerances for
off-task behavior. The claimant can occasionally balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps or stairs, but
cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. The claimant must
avoid concentrated exposure to the use of moving machinery or
exposure to unprotected heights.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform
any past relevant work (Tr. 22). But, based on the testimony
of a vocational expert, the ALJ concluded at step five that,
considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that she can
perform (Tr. 23-24). As a result, the ALJ held that Plaintiff
was not under a disability from June 25, 2013, through the
date of the Commissioner's decision (Tr. 24).
scope of the Court's review is limited to determining
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and
whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363
F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004). Findings of fact are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla but less than a preponderance. It is such relevant
evidence that a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Winschel v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011)
(citation omitted). When the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence the district court will
affirm even if the reviewer would have reached a contrary
result as finder of fact, and even if the reviewer finds that
the preponderance of the evidence is against the
Commissioner's decision. Miles v. Chater, 84
F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir. 1996). The district court
“may not decide facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute our judgment for that of the
[Commissioner.]” Id. "The district court
must view the record as a whole, taking into ...