United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHARLES J. KAHN, JR., UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
for review of the final determination of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying Benjamin
Conover's application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34. The case
was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(D). Upon
review of the record before the court, I conclude the
findings of fact and determinations of the Commissioner are
supported by substantial evidence. The decision of the
Commissioner, therefore, should be affirmed and the
application for DIB denied.
Conover, who will be referred to as claimant, plaintiff, or
by name, claims: (1) the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) failed to articulate “explicit and
adequate” reasons for discrediting plaintiff's
statements regarding the need to elevate his feet; and (2)
the ALJ's reasons for discrediting plaintiff's
complaints of pain and swelling in his legs are not based on
substantial evidence. (Doc. 10).
March 25, 2014, plaintiff protectively filed an application
for DIB, claiming disability beginning December 16, 2013, due
to lymphedema and depression. T. 87. The Commissioner denied the
application initially and on reconsideration. T. 97, 108.
After a hearing on March 23, 2016, the ALJ found claimant not
disabled under the Act. T. 21-31, 36-85. The Appeals Council
denied a request for further review and, as a result, the
ALJ's decision became the final determination of the
Commissioner. T. 1-3. The Commissioner's determination is
now before the court for review.
federal court reviews the “Commissioner's decision
to determine if it is supported by substantial evidence and
based upon proper legal standards.” Lewis v.
Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997); see
also Carnes v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1215, 1218 (11th Cir.
1991) (“[T]his Court may reverse the decision of the
[Commissioner] only when convinced that it is not supported
by substantial evidence or that proper legal standards were
not applied.”). 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)). “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)). Even if
the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
decision, the decision must be affirmed if supported by
substantial evidence. See Sewell v. Bowen, 792 F.2d
1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986).
reviewing a Social Security disability case, the court
“‘may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the
evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner.]'” Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990) (quoting Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983)). The
reviewing court, however, may not look “only to those
parts of the record which support the ALJ[, ]” but
instead “must view the entire record and take account
of evidence in the record which detracts from the evidence
relied on by the ALJ.” Tieniber v. Heckler,
720 F.2d 1251, 1253 (11th Cir. 1983). Review is deferential
to a point, but the reviewing court conducts what has been
referred to as “an independent review of the
record.” Flynn v. Heckler, 768 F.2d 1273, 1273
(11th Cir. 1985).
Social Security Act defines disability as an “inability
to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of
any medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted
or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not
less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To
qualify as a disability, the physical or mental impairment
must be so severe the plaintiff is not only unable to do his
previous work, “but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy[.]” Id. § 423(d)(2)(A).
to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the Commissioner analyzes
a disability claim in five steps:
1. If the claimant is performing substantial gainful
activity, he is not disabled.
2. If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful
activity, his impairments must be severe before he can be
3. If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful
activity and he has severe impairments that have lasted or
are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12
months, and if his impairments meet or medically equal the
criteria of any impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1, the claimant is presumed disabled
without further inquiry.
4. If the claimant's impairments do not prevent him from
performing his past relevant work, he is not
5. Even if the claimant's impairments prevent him from
performing his past relevant work, if other jobs exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that accommodate
the claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) and vocational factors, he is not
OF THE ALJ
written decision, the ALJ made several findings relative to