United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Plaintiff Bruce Dewitt's
Complaint (Doc. 1) filed on January 31, 2017. Plaintiff seeks
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
denying his claim for a period of disability, disability
insurance benefits, and supplemental security income. The
Commissioner filed the Transcript of the proceedings
(hereinafter referred to as “Tr.” followed by the
appropriate page number), and the parties filed legal
memoranda in support of their positions. In addition,
Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. 30) on November 15, 2017.
For the reasons set out herein, the decision of the
Commissioner is AFFIRMED pursuant to
§205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
Social Security Act Eligibility, the ALJ's Decision, and
Standard of Review
defines disability as the inability to do 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.
§§ 416(i), 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1505, 416.905. The impairment must be
severe, making the claimant unable to do his previous work,
or any other substantial gainful activity that exists in the
national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2), 1382c(a)(3)(B);
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505 - 404.1511, 416.905 -
416.911. Plaintiff bears the burden of persuasion through
step four, while the burden shifts to the Commissioner at
step five. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5
April 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for a period of
disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental
security income, asserting an onset date of May 30, 2011.
(Tr. at 87, 196-211). Plaintiff subsequently amended his
onset date to March 21, 2012. (Id. at 290-91).
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially on May 15,
2013 and upon reconsideration on September 3, 2013.
(Id. at 87, 88, 107, 108). A hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Lisa B. Martin
on September 11, 2015. (Id. at 26-54). The ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on September 21, 2015.
(Id. at 12-20). The ALJ found Plaintiff not to be
under a disability from May 30, 2011, through the date of the
decision. (Id. at 24-25).
December 7, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. (Id. at 1-5). Plaintiff filed a
Complaint (Doc. 1) in this Court on January 31, 2017. The
parties consented to proceed before a United States
Magistrate Judge for all proceedings. (See Doc. 20).
This case is ripe for review.
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
must follow a five-step sequential evaluation process to
determine if a claimant has proven that he is disabled.
Packer v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 542 F. App'x
890, 891 (11th Cir. 2013) (citing Jones v. Apfel,
190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999)). An ALJ must
determine whether the claimant: (1) is performing substantial
gainful activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has a
severe impairment that meets or equals an impairment
specifically listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1; (4) has the residual functioning capacity
(“RFC”) to perform her past relevant work; and
(5) can perform other work of the sort found in the national
economy. Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232,
1237-40 (11th Cir. 2013).
found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
through December 31, 2016. (Tr. at 14). At step one of the
sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 21, 2012,
the alleged onset date. (Id.). At step two, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe
impairments: “degenerative disc disease, shoulder
strain, history of pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus, essential
hypertension, and obesity (20 [C.F.R. §§]
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” (Id.). At step
three, the ALJ determined 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. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1 (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d),
416.925, and 416.926). (Id. at 15).
four, the ALJ found the following:
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform a full range of light work as defined in 20 [C.F.R.
§§] 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except for the
following additional restrictions. The claimant needs a
change of position opportunity as often as every 45 minutes
for 1-2 minutes. He must not perform ladders, ropes or
scaffolds climbing [sic], and is limited to occasional
postural motions otherwise. He must avoid all exposure to
dangerous work hazards (unprotected heights and exposed
moving machinery), and all exposure to extreme heat, humidity
and cold conditions. He is limited to detailed, but
uninvolved tasks not requiring a fast assembly quota pace.
determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform his past
relevant work as a truck driver. (Id. at 18). The
ALJ considered Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, and found that
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff could perform.
(Id.). The ALJ noted that the vocational expert
identified the following representative occupations that
Plaintiff was able to perform: (1) parking lot cashier, DOT #
211.462-018, light, unskilled work with an SVP of 2; (2)
self-service cashier, DOT # 211.462-010, light, unskilled
work with an SVP of 2; and (3) shipping and receiving
weigher, DOT # 222.387-074, light, unskilled work with an SVP
of 2. (Id. at 19).
concluded that Plaintiff was not under a disability from May
30, 2011, ...