United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. SNEED UNTIED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kristen Lisanti, seeks judicial review of the denial of her
claim for supplemental security income, a period of
disability, and disability insurance benefits. 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 supplemental security income, a period
of disability, and disability insurance benefits on July 29,
2013. (Tr. 204.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's
claims both initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 102-09,
112-23.) Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing.
(Tr. 124.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a
hearing at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr.
27-54.) Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly
denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 9-20.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council, which the Appeals Council denied. (Tr. 1-5.)
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 1974, claimed disability beginning on July
25, 2013. (Tr. 204.) Plaintiff has a high school education.
(Tr. 30.) Plaintiff's past relevant work experience
included work as a school custodian, retail supervisor,
hospital transporter, appointment clerk, and child care
attendant. (Tr. 49-50.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to
liver disease, kidney disease, a weak immune system, anemia,
and chronic itching. (Tr. 218.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since July 25,
2013, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 14.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: diabetes mellitus, stage III chronic kidney
disease, and liver disease/biliary cirrhosis with chronic
generalized pruritus. (Tr. 14.) 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. (Id.) The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with the
following limitations: standing and walking limited to two
hour segments with a ten to fifteen minute break for a total
of six to seven hours in an eight-hour workday; sitting for a
total of six to seven hours in an eight-hour workday with a
customary number of breaks; and, occasional exposure to
direct and bright sunlight. (Tr. 15.) The ALJ further limited
Plaintiff's RFC to avoiding extreme heat environments and
extreme humidity and found that Plaintiff is unable to
operate dangerous machinery. (Id.) 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 her symptoms were not
fully credible. (Tr. 16.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as an
appointment clerk. (Tr. 18.) Further, 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 ticket taker, cashier, and small
products assembler. (Tr. 19.) 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. 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. §
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