United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. IRICK UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Vernel Young (Claimant) appeals to the District Court from a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
Commissioner) denying her application for disability
insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income
(SSI). Doc. 1; R. 1-4, 226-35. Claimant argued that the
Administrative Law Judge (the ALJ) erred by failing to
properly evaluate Claimant's allegations of pain and
limitations. Doc. 16 at 12-16. For the reasons set forth
below, it is RECOMMENDED that the
Commissioner's final decision be
THE ALJ'S DECISION
2014, Claimant filed applications for DIB and SSI. R. 19,
226-35. Claimant alleged a disability onset date of September
25, 2013. Id.
issued his decision on December 30, 2016. R. 19-27. In his
decision, the ALJ found that Claimant had the following
severe impairments: fibromyalgia, arthropathies, and
dysfunction of major joints. R. 21. The ALJ found that
Claimant had a residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform
less than a full range of sedentary work as defined by 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a). R. 22.
Specifically, the ALJ found as follows:
[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) with limitations. The claimant can use her upper
extremities to perform tasks no more than frequently.
Id. The ALJ posed a hypothetical question to the
vocational expert (VE) that was consistent with the foregoing
RFC determination, and the VE testified that Claimant was
capable of performing her past relevant work. R. 55-56. The
ALJ thus found that Claimant was capable of performing her
past relevant work. R. 26. Therefore, the ALJ found that
Claimant was not disabled between the alleged onset date and
the date of the ALJ's decision. R. 27
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Social Security appeals, [the court] must determine whether
the Commissioner's decision is ‘supported by
substantial evidence and based on proper legal
standards.'” Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (citations
omitted). The Commissioner's findings of fact are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). 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) and
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
Where 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 v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th
Cir. 1991); 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.
The district court “‘may not decide the facts
anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for
that of the [Commissioner].'” Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004)
(quoting Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239
(11th Cir. 1983)).
claimant may establish “disability through his own
testimony of pain or other subjective symptoms.”
Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir.
2005). A claimant seeking to establish disability through his
or her own testimony must show:
(1) evidence of an underlying medical condition; and (2)
either (a) objective medical evidence confirming the severity
of the alleged pain; or (b) that the objectively determined
medical condition can reasonably be expected to give rise to
the claimed pain.
Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1225 (11th Cir.
2002) (per curiam). If the ALJ determines that the claimant
has a medically determinable impairment that could reasonably
produce the claimant's alleged pain or other symptoms,
the ALJ must then evaluate the extent to which the intensity
and persistence of those symptoms limit the claimant's
ability to work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(c)(1),
416.929(c)(1). In doing so, the ALJ considers a variety of
evidence, including, but not limited to, the claimant's
history, the medical signs and laboratory findings, the
claimant's statements, medical source opinions, and other
evidence of how the pain affects the claimant's daily
activities and ability to work. Id. at §§
404.1529(c)(1)-(3), 416.929(c)(1)-(3). “If the ALJ
decides not to credit a claimant's testimony as to her
pain, he must articulate explicit and adequate reasons for
doing so.” Foote, 67 F.3d at 1561-62. The
Court will not disturb a clearly articulated credibility
finding that is supported by substantial evidence. See
Foote, 67 F.3d at 1562.
Claimant argued that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate
Claimant's allegations of pain and limitations. Doc. 16
at 12-16. Specifically, Claimant argued that the ALJ failed
to consider that Claimant had unsuccessfully tried multiple
forms of treatment; that Claimant's treating physician,
Dr. Allende, documented decreased sensation in Claimant's
bilateral upper extremities and diagnosed her with cervical
spondylosis with radiculopathy; and that Claimant had to
stand up during the hearing before the ALJ. Id.
Claimant also argued that it was error for ...