United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. SNEED, UNTTED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Janyce Paskowsky, seeks judicial review of the denial of her
claim for disability insurance benefits and a period of
disability. As the Administrative Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) decision was based on substantial
evidence and employed proper legal standards, the decision is
filed an application for disability insurance benefits on
January 29, 2014. (Tr. 13.) The Commissioner denied
Plaintiff's claims both initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 111-17.) Plaintiff then requested an
administrative hearing. (Tr. 122.) Upon Plaintiff's
request, the ALJ held a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared
and testified. (Tr. 32-46.) Following the hearing, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff not disabled
and accordingly denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits.
(Tr. 13-24.) 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
Plaintiff, who was born in 1952, claimed disability beginning
on May 18, 2013. (Tr. 207.) Plaintiff has a high school
education. (Tr. 211.) Plaintiff's past relevant work
experience included work as a personal banker. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleged disability due to myocardial infarction,
coronary artery bypass graft, and diabetes mellitus. (Tr.
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since May 18,
2013, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 15.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: status post myocardial infarction, status post
coronary artery bypass graft x5, and coronary artery disease.
(Id.) 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. (Tr. 16.) The ALJ then concluded that Plaintiff
retained a residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform light work with additional limitations. (Tr. 17.)
Specifically, the ALJ limited Plaintiff to occasionally
lifting and carrying up to twenty pounds, frequently lifting
and carrying up to ten pounds, and standing, walking, and
sitting for six hours in an eight hour work-day.
(Id.) The ALJ further determined that Plaintiff had
postural limitations, including never climbing ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds, and occasionally climbing ramps and
stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and
crawling. (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. 19.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as a personal
banker. (Tr. 23.) Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE,
the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 24.)
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
supported by substantial evidence and whether the correct
legal standards were applied. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1221 (11th Cir.
challenges the ALJ's decision on the following grounds:
(1) the ALJ erred in relying on vocational evidence from
non-expert disability examiner Craig Noll in determining
Plaintiff's past relevant work; (2) the ALJ erred in
rejecting the opinion of treating physician Dr. Alexander
Johnson; and (3) the ALJ erred in assessing ...