United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. SNEED UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Willie Lee Ward, seeks judicial review of the denial of his
claims 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 applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income on April 16, 2012. (Tr. 196-201,
204-10.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's claims both
initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 79-91, 99-109.)
Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing. (Tr.
110-12.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing
at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr. 26-44.)
Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly denied
Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 10-20.)
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 1966, claimed disability beginning on January
22, 2012. (Tr. 45.) Plaintiff has a limited education. (Tr.
18.) Plaintiff's past relevant work experience included
work as a loader/unloader and construction worker. (Tr. 18.)
Plaintiff alleged disability due to a stroke, left leg pain
and numbness, high blood pressure, headaches, and learning
difficulties. (Tr. 31-35, 45.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since January 22,
2012, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 12.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, being
overweight, post-cerebrovascular accident, hypertension, and
diabetes. (Tr. 12.) 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 (“Listing”). (Tr. 13-14.) The ALJ
then concluded that Plaintiff retained the following residual
functional capacity (“RFC”):
[P]erform light work . . . except he can never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds but can occasionally perform the
remaining postural activities. He should avoid concentrated
exposure to hazards. He is further limited to unskilled work,
SVP 1 or 2, simple, routine, and repetitive tasks.
(Tr. 15.) 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. 15.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), however, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff could not perform his past relevant
work. (Tr. 18.) Given Plaintiff's background and RFC, the
VE testified that Plaintiff could perform other jobs existing
in significant numbers in the national economy, such as a
cleaner (housekeeping), an agricultural produce sorter, and a
shoe packer. (Tr. 19.) Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's
age, education, work experience, RFC, and the testimony of
the VE, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 19-20.)
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 ...