United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
R. KLINDT United States Magistrate Judge.
Marie Felty (“Plaintiff”) is appealing the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's
(“SSA('s)”) final decision denying her claims
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”).
Plaintiff's alleged inability to work is a result of
neck, back, and ankle injuries; depression; anxiety; and
“[s]tress disorders.” Transcript of
Administrative Proceedings (Doc. No. 12; “Tr.” or
“administrative transcript”), filed January 30,
2017, at 59, 68, 79, 93, 212 (emphasis omitted). On February
6, 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI,
alleging an onset disability date of February 5, 2012. Tr. at
189 (DIB); Tr. at 191 (SSI). Plaintiff's applications were
denied initially, see Tr. at 59-67, 77 (DIB); Tr. at
68-76, 78 (SSI), and were denied upon reconsideration,
see Tr. at 93-106, 107 (DIB); Tr. at 79-92, 108
January 20, 2015, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing, during which he heard
from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a
vocational expert (“VE”). Tr. at 37-58. At the
time of the hearing, Plaintiff was twenty-eight years old.
See Tr. at 41. The ALJ issued a Decision on February
5, 2015, finding Plaintiff not disabled through the date of
the Decision. Tr. at 21-32.
September 21, 2016, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, Tr. at 1-3, thereby
making the ALJ's Decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff commenced this
action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) by
timely filing a Complaint (Doc. No. 1), seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's final decision.
appeal, Plaintiff raises the following issue: “Whether
. . . the ALJ's review properly applied the governing
regulations and whether . . . significant inaccuracies and
omissions exist in the Commissioner's final
Decision.” Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's
Position (Doc. No. 21; “Pl.'s Mem.” or
“Plaintiff's memorandum”), filed May 23,
2017, at 1 (some capitalization omitted). Specifically, in
raising this issue, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in
his assessment of the opinions of a number of Plaintiff's
health providers, made some inaccurate statements, and
omitted certain information. Pl.'s Mem. at
15-24. On August 23, 2017, Defendant filed a
Memorandum in Support of the Commissioner's Decision
(Doc. No. 24; “Def.'s Mem.”) addressing
Plaintiff's arguments. After a thorough review of the
entire record and consideration of the parties'
respective memoranda, the undersigned determines that the
Commissioner's final decision is due to be reversed and
remanded for further administrative proceedings.
The ALJ's Decision
determining whether an individual is disabled,  an ALJ must
follow the five-step sequential inquiry set forth in the Code
of Federal Regulations (“Regulations”),
determining as appropriate whether the claimant (1) is
currently employed or engaging in substantial gainful
activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has an impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
one listed in the Regulations; (4) can perform past relevant
work; and (5) retains the ability to perform any work in the
national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920;
see also Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237
(11th Cir. 2004). The claimant bears the burden of persuasion
through step four and, at step five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146
the ALJ followed the five-step sequential inquiry.
See Tr. at 23-31. At step one, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff “has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since February 5, 2012, the alleged onset
date.” Tr. at 23 (emphasis and citation omitted). At
step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has the
following severe impairments: disorders of the spine and
ankle, anxiety disorder and affective disorder.” Tr. at
23 (emphasis and citation omitted). At step three, the ALJ
ascertained that Plaintiff “does not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 [C.F.R.]
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” Tr. at 23-24
(emphasis and citation omitted).
determined that Plaintiff has the following residual
functional capacity (“RFC”):
[Plaintiff can] perform light work as defined in 20 [C.F.R.
§§] 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that
[Plaintiff] can occasionally crawl, crouch, stoop, squat and
bend. [Plaintiff] must avoid ladders, unprotected heights and
the operation of moving machinery. [Plaintiff] is limited to
performing simple, repetitive tasks in a low stress,
non-production pace environment. [Plaintiff] is limited to
lifting ten pounds. [Plaintiff] must avoid the push/pull of
arm controls and the operation of foot controls.
Tr. at 25 (emphasis omitted).
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “is unable to
perform any past relevant work.” Tr. at 30 (emphasis
and citation omitted). At step five, after considering
Plaintiff's age (“[twenty-six] years old . . . on
the alleged disability onset date”), education
(“at least a high school education”), work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ relied on the testimony of the
VE and found that “there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff]
can perform, ” including “[a]ssembler, small
parts”; “[a]ddresser”; and “[t]able
worker.” Tr. at 30-31. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
“has not been under a disability . . . from February 5,
2012, through the date of th[e Decision].” Tr. at 31
(emphasis and citation omitted).
Standard of Review
Court reviews the Commissioner's final decision as to
disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
1383(c)(3). Although no deference is given to the ALJ's
conclusions of law, findings of fact “are conclusive if
. . . supported by ‘substantial evidence' . . .
.” Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th
Cir. 2001) (citing Falge v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320,
1322 (11th Cir. 1998)). “Substantial evidence is
something ‘more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.'” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395
F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Hale v.
Bowen, 831 F.2d 1007, 1011 (11th Cir. 1987)). The
substantial evidence standard is met when there is
“‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'”
Falge, 150 F.3d at 1322 (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). It is not for this
Court to reweigh the evidence; rather, the entire record is
reviewed to determine whether “the decision reached is
reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.”
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145 (11th
Cir. 1991) (internal quotation and citations omitted);
see also McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080
(11th Cir. 1988); Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999
(11th Cir. 1987). The decision reached by the Commissioner
must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial
evidence-even if the evidence preponderates against the
Commissioner's findings. Crawford v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004) (per
undersigned addresses Plaintiff's specific arguments in
ALJ's Assessment of Opinions
challenges the ALJ's assessment of the opinions of Dr.
Edgardo Galante, Dr. Umesh Mhatre, Ms. Hydee Vanterpool, Ms.
Karen Klein, and Dr. David Yudell. See Pl.'s
Mem. at 17, 20-24. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred in
failing to assign weight to Dr. Galante's opinion,
id. at 21, and in failing to “appreciate the
fact that Dr. Galante was a board[-]certified
anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist who operated a
pain management office . . ., ” id. at 17.
According to Plaintiff, the “ALJ's failure to
indicate the weight accorded to Dr. Galante's notes is
significant because [he] recommended the same
conservative measures . . . that had been provided
by Dr. Joseph Shaughnessy[] . . . along with the same
diagnostic facet blocks and trigger point injections that
would be administered (later) in Dr. Frank
Collier's[] office.” Id. at
21-22. With regard to the ALJ's assessment of Dr.
Mhatre's opinion, Plaintiff asserts that the reason
offered by the ALJ for assigning more weight to Dr.
Mhatre's treatment notes than to the Medical Statement
completed by Dr. Mhatre is not supported by substantial
evidence. Id. at 22. As to the opinions of Ms.
Vanterpool and Ms. Klein, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred
in “summarily reject[ing]” them. Id. at
23. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred in giving significant
weight to Dr. Yudell's opinion because the ALJ was
“simply wrong” when he stated that Dr. Yudell
based his opinion on a “thorough review of
[Plaintiff's] records.” Id. at 20;
see Tr. at 29.
Defendant asserts that any error in failing to assign weight
to Dr. Galante's treatment notes is harmless because
“Dr. Galante recommended conservative
treatment measures, including therapies and
blocks/injections, as did Dr. Shaughnessy and Dr.
Collier.” Def.'s Mem. at 9. According to Defendant,
“the ALJ in fact relied on Plaintiff's conservative
treatment and its effectiveness i[n] determining
Plaintiff's RFC.” Id. With regard to Dr.
Mhatre's treatment notes, Defendant argues that the ALJ
gave more weight to the physician's treatment notes than
to the Medical Statement because the treatment notes
“show[ ] a good response to conservative
treatment.” Id. at 15. With regard to the
opinions of Ms. Vanterpool and Ms. Klein, Defendant contends
that “neither provider was an acceptable medical
source, and therefore their opinions were not ‘medical
opinions' within the meaning of the [R]egulations; and
were not entitled to any weight.” Id. at 15-16
(citation omitted). Defendant asserts that while Plaintiff
“had sporadic mental health treatment after [Dr.
Yudell's examination], which of course, Dr. Yudell would
not have considered, the ALJ did review this treatment
history, and properly determined that Dr. Yudell's
opinion was consistent with the evidence and entitled to
significant weight.” Id. at 14.