Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Duran v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

February 5, 2018



          THOMAS B. SMITH United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Sandra Lozada Duran appeals to this Court from Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying her applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. I have reviewed the record, including the administrative law judge's (“ALJ”) decision, the exhibits, and the joint memorandum submitted by the parties. For the following reasons, I respectfully recommend that the Commissioner's final decision be affirmed, pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         I. Background[1]

         At the time of the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was forty-two years old (Tr. 54-55). She has a high school education and past relevant work experience as a cashier-checker and administrative assistant (Id.; Tr. 41, 63). On September 9, 2013, she applied for benefits, alleging a disability onset date of February 1, 2013 (Tr. 24, 26, 225-238). Her claims were denied initially and on reconsideration (Tr. 136-142, 145-155). At Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing on October 29, 2015 (Tr. 50-68). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on December 3, 2015[2] (Tr. 21, 24-43). Plaintiff asked the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision and on January 3, 2017, the Appeals Council denied the request for review (Tr. 1-4). Thus, the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision and this appeal timely followed (Doc. 1). Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies and her case is ripe for review.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         When determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ must follow the Commissioner's five-step sequential evaluation process set out in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4). 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 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. Id., at 1241 n.10; Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n. 5 (1987).

         The ALJ determined at step one that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her February 1, 2013 alleged onset date (Tr. 26). At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff was severely impaired by: fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus, and depression (Tr. 26-27). At step three, the ALJ concluded 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. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1 (20 CFR §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926) (Tr. 27-31). Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ decided that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity(“RFC”) to,

[P]erform less than the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). The claimant requires work that is at most very low semi-skilled, which would be tasks performed so frequently as to be considered routine even though the tasks themselves might not be considered simple. The claimant can only lift and carry ten pounds frequently and twenty occasionally. The claimant can stand and/or walk for six hours. The claimant can sit for a total of six hours. The claimant should avoid frequent ascending and descending of stairs. The claimant should avoid pushing and pulling motions with her lower extremities. The claimant should avoid hazards in the workplace. The claimant can occasionally perform postural activities: balance, stoop, crouch, kneel and crawl, but cannot climb, ropes, or scaffolds, or climb ladders exceeding six feet. The claimant is limited to no more than occasional overhead reaching with the left non-dominant upper extremities. The claimant can only perform occasional fine manipulation with fingering. The claimant has non-exertional limitations which frequently affect her ability to concentrate upon complex or detailed tasks, but the claimant remains capable of understanding, remembering, and carrying out job instructions (as defined above). The claimant can make work related judgments and decisions. The claimant can respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and work situations. The claimant can deal with changes in a routine work setting.

(Tr. 31-41). At step four, the ALJ found Plaintiff unable to perform her past relevant work (Tr. 41). But, the ALJ ultimately concluded at step five that there were other jobs in the national economy-like job router, furniture rental consultant, and sandwich board carrier- that Plaintiff could perform and therefore, she was not disabled (Tr. 42-43).

         III. Standard of Review

         The 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). The Commissioner's 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 account evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the decision." Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); accord Lowery v. Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1992) (the court must scrutinize the entire record to determine the reasonableness of the factual findings).

         IV. Discussion

         A. The ALJ's RFC Assessment Was Based On ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.