United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Gainesville Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
appeals to this Court from a final decision of the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) pursuant to Title II and Title XVI,
respectively, of the Social Security Act (“the
Act”), prior to June 1, 2012. (ECF No. 1.) The
Commissioner has answered, (ECF No. 11), and both parties
have filed briefs outlining their respective positions. (ECF
Nos. 25 & 26.) For the reasons discussed below, it is
recommended that the Commissioner's decision should be
filed applications for Title II DIB and Title XVI benefits on
September 19, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of
October 1, 2006. (R. 92-93, 180-88.) Her applications were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. (R. 92-95.)
Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an administrative
law judge (“ALJ”), who issued a written decision
on March 28, 2013, finding that Plaintiff was disabled from
March 12, 2010, through June 1, 2011, but not disabled after
June 1, 2011. (R. 20-34.) The Appeals Council
(“AC”) thereafter denied Plaintiff's request
for review. (R. 1-3, 15.)
then appealed to this Court. (R. 1701-06.) Upon consent
motion by the Commissioner, this Court reversed the
Commissioner's decision and remanded the case to the
Commissioner pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), so that the ALJ could,
reevaluate Plaintiff's medically determinable impairments
and their severity at steps two and three of the sequential
evaluation process, and clearly articulate the mental and
physical limitations assessed in the residual functional
capacity finding with specific references to the evidence of
record that supports the assessed limitations pursuant to
Social Security Ruling 96-8p; and (2) reevaluate and, if
warranted, obtain supplemental vocational expert evidence at
steps four and five of the sequential evaluation process to
clarify the effect that Plaintiff's residual functional
capacity would have on her occupational bases.
remand, the AC reviewed the ALJ's March 28, 2013 decision
and issued an order remanding the case to the ALJ, stating:
As the Court reversed and remanded the hearing decision
issued by the Administrative Law Judge, and the Appeals
Council does not affirm the favorable portion of the
decision, this remand order covers the entire period at issue
from the alleged onset date of October 1, 2006 through the
date of the new hearing decision.
1709-12.) The AC then set forth several issues for the ALJ to
resolve on remand, including the reasons this Court reversed
the Commissioner's decision and remanded the case, as
well as various other issues the AC identified.
April 13, 2016, following a hearing, the same ALJ issued a
new decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled prior to
June 1, 2012, but became disabled on that date. (R.
1599-1615.) The AC then denied Plaintiff's request for
review. (R. 1586-89.) Plaintiff subsequently appealed to this
Court. (ECF No. 1.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Commissioner's findings of fact are conclusive if
supported by substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) (2012). Substantial evidence is more than a
scintilla, i.e., the evidence must do more than merely create
a suspicion of the existence of a fact, and must include such
relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support the conclusion. Foote v. Chater,
67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Walden v.
Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982),
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971));
accord Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3
(11th Cir. 1991).
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 evidence
preponderates against the Commissioner's decision.
Edwards, 937 F.2d at 584 n.3; Barnes v.
Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1356, 1358 (11th Cir. 1991). The
district court must view the evidence as a whole, taking into
account evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the
decision. Foote, 67 F.3d at 1560; accord Lowery
v. Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1992) (holding
that the court must scrutinize the entire record to determine
reasonableness of factual findings); Parker v.
Bowen,793 F.2d 1177 (11th Cir. 1986) (finding that the
court must also consider evidence detracting from evidence on
which the Commissioner relied). However, the district court
will reverse the Commissioner's decision on plenary
review if the ...