United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
B. SMITH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), to
obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying his claims for Disability
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Upon
review, I respectfully recommend that the Commissioner's
final decision in this case be AFFIRMED,
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
25, 2006, Plaintiff filed for benefits, alleging an onset
date of January 1, 2003 (Tr. 255-262). He claimed he was
disabled due to Hepatitis C, fatigue, weakness, headaches,
shoulder and arm problems, and depression (Tr. 389). His
claims were denied initially and on reconsideration (Tr.
144-147, 149-152, and 154-156). Plaintiff requested a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) and on
February 23, 2007, ALJ David B. Daugherty issued a fully
favorable decision finding, without a hearing, that Plaintiff
was disabled as of November 18, 2005 (Tr. 132-138, 153).
18, 2015, the Commissioner informed Plaintiff that his
eligibility for benefits needed to be re-determined because
there was reason to believe his award was based on fraud (Tr.
157-163). In 2016, ALJ Amy Benton held an administrative
hearing and, on June 29, 2016, she issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled during the relevant time period of
January 1, 2003 (Plaintiff's alleged onset date) through
February 23, 2007 (the date of the prior decision) (Tr.
32-55, 58-83). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review of this decision, making ALJ Benton's
June 2016 decision the final decision of the Commissioner
exhausted his available administrative remedies, Plaintiff
filed this action for judicial review (Doc. 1). The dispute has
been fully briefed, and was referred to me for a report and
determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ must
follow the five-step sequential evaluation process published
in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4) and 416.920(a)(4).
Specifically, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant:
(1) is currently employed; (2) has a severe impairment; (3)
has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals an impairment listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; (4) can perform past relevant work;
and (5) retains the ability to perform any work in the
national economy. See Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d
1232, 1237-1240 (11th Cir. 2004). The claimant bears the
burden of persuasion through step four and, at step five, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to prove that other jobs
exist in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n. 5 (1987);
Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1241 n.10.
performed the required sequential analysis in this case. At
step one, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date and
through February 23, 2007 (Tr. 39). At step two, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff suffered from the severe
impairments of carpal tunnel syndrome in the left upper
extremity, left rotator cuff tear, history of substance
abuse, borderline intellectual functioning, and antisocial
personality disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)) (Tr.
39). At step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (Tr.
40-42). Next, the ALJ decided that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity to perform
medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c)
except the beneficiary could only occasionally reach overhead
and frequently in all other directions with the upper
non-dominant extremity. Further, the beneficiary (1)
understand, remember and carry out simple instructions; (2)
have occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers and
the public; (3) only make simple, work-related decisions; and
(4) only tolerate occasional change in work location.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had no past relevant
work (Tr. 47).Based on the testimony of a vocational
expert, the ALJ concluded at step five that considering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that he could
have performed during the relevant time period (Tr. 47-48,
78-79). As a result, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not
under a disability from January 1, 2003, through February 23,
2007, the date of the prior decision (Tr. 48-49).
scope of the Court's review is limited to determining
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and
whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363
F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004). Findings of fact are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla but less than a preponderance. It is such relevant
evidence that a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Winschel v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011)
(citation omitted). When 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 preponderance of the evidence is against the
Commissioner's decision. Miles v. Chater, 84
F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir. 1996). The district court
“may not decide facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute our judgment for that of the
[Commissioner.]” Id. "The district court
must view the record as a whole, taking into ...