United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
TABITHA L. BAILEY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
S. SNEED UNTIED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tabitha L. Bailey, seeks judicial review of the denial of her
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 March 29, 2013. (Tr. 202-11.)
The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's claims both initially
and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 114-24, 129-40.) Plaintiff
then requested an administrative hearing. (Tr. 141-43.) Upon
Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing at which
Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr. 43-62.) Following the
hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly denied Plaintiff's
claims for benefits. (Tr. 18-42.) 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. §
Factual Background and the ALJ's Decision
who was born in 1972, claimed disability beginning on October
13, 2012. (Tr. 63.) Plaintiff has a high school education.
(Tr. 35.) Plaintiff's past relevant work experience
included work as a certified nurse's assistant
(“CNA”). (Tr. 34.) Plaintiff alleged disability
due to back and nerve issues, headaches, and neck
impairments. (Tr. 63.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since October 13,
2012, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 23.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease of the
cervical spine, status post anterior discectomy and fusion,
and post-traumatic headaches. (Tr. 23.) 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. 27.) The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium work, with the
following additional limitations:
The claimant should never engage in overhead work activity.
The claimant should never climb ladders or scaffolds, kneel,
or crawl. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs. The claimant should not work at unprotected heights
or around hazardous mechanical parts. The claimant should
never operate a motor vehicle.
(Tr. 28.) 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. 29.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), however, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant
work. (Tr. 34.) 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), cashier II, and sales attendant. (Tr.
35-36.) Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age, education,
work experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ
found Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 36.)
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 ...