United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
DEWEY L. EUBANKS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
McCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on Plaintiff Dewey Eubanks'
Complaint (Doc. 1) filed on March 31, 2017. Plaintiff seeks
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration denying his claims for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits. The
Commissioner filed the Transcript of the proceedings
(hereinafter referred to as “Tr.” followed by the
appropriate page number), and the parties filed legal
memoranda in support of their positions. For the reasons set
out herein, the decision of the Commissioner is
REVERSED AND REMANDED pursuant to §
205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Social Security Act Eligibility, Procedural History, the
ALJ's Decision, and Standard of
defines disability as the inability to do any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result
in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 416(i), 423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1505. The impairment must be severe, making the
claimant unable to do his previous work, or any other
substantial gainful activity that exists in the national
economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2); 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1505 -404.1511. Plaintiff bears the burden of persuasion
through step four, while the burden shifts to the
Commissioner at step five. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987).
January 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for period
of disability and disability insurance benefits with an
alleged onset date of January 7, 2012. (See Tr. at
71, 225). The application was denied initially on April 16,
2014 and upon reconsideration on August 1, 2014. (Tr. at 135,
150). A video hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Rosanne M. Dummer on December 23,
2015. (Tr. at 91-125). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
on February 18, 2016. (Tr. at 68-90). The ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not been under a disability from January 7,
2012 through the date of the decision. (Tr. at 84).
February 22, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. (Tr. at 1-7). Plaintiff filed a Complaint
(Doc. 1) in this Court on March 31, 2017. Defendant filed an
Answer (Doc. 11) on July 17, 2017. The parties filed a Joint
Memorandum, setting forth their positions and arguments on
the issues. (Doc. 22). The parties consented to proceed
before a United States Magistrate Judge for all proceedings.
(See Doc. 16). This case is ripe for review.
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
must follow a five-step sequential evaluation process to
determine if a claimant has proven that she is disabled.
Packer v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 542 Fed.Appx.
890, 891 (11th Cir. 2013) (citing Jones v. Apfel,
190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999)). An ALJ must
determine whether the claimant: (1) is performing substantial
gainful activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has a
severe impairment that meets or equals an impairment
specifically listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1; (4) has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform her past relevant work; and
(5) can perform other work of the sort found in the national
economy. Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232,
1237-40 (11th Cir. 2004). The claimant has the burden of
proof through step four and then the burden shifts to the
Commissioner at step five. Hines-Sharp v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 511 Fed.Appx. 913, 915 n.2 (11th Cir. 2013).
initial matter, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Social Security Act though
December 31, 2018. (Tr. at 73). At step one of the sequential
evaluation, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had engaged in
substantial gainful activity during the following period,
August 2012 through August 2013. (Id.). The ALJ
found, however, that there was “a continuous 12-month
period(s) during which the claimant did not engage in
substantial gainful activity.” (Tr. at 74). Thus, the
ALJ's “remaining findings address the period(s) the
claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the following
severe impairments: “left shoulder tendinopathy and
cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease with low back
strain.” (Id.). At step three, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff did 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 (20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526)). (Tr. at 75).
on the evidence, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
RFC to perform “light work” except:
[Plaintiff] is able to lift/carry twenty pounds occasionally
and ten pounds frequently; sit about six of eight hours; and
stand/walk about six of eight hours. He could occasionally
climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He should
avoid ladders, ropes, and scaffolds and should not work
around unprotected heights. [Plaintiff] could reach overhead
on an occasional basis.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform his
past relevant work as a front desk clerk. (Tr. at 82). The
ALJ found that this work does not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by Plaintiff's RFC.
(Id.). In comparing Plaintiff's RFC with the
physical and mental demands of this work, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff is able to perform the job of front desk clerk as
it is actually and generally performed. (Id.). Of
note, however, the ALJ made no finding that Plaintiff could
return to his past relevant work as a firefighter or
warehouse worker. (See id.).
not required to proceed to step five, the ALJ made
alternative findings for step five. (See id.). At
step five, considering Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ found that there are other jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that Plaintiff can perform. (Id.). Specifically, the
ALJ asked the vocational expert (“VE”) whether
jobs exist in the national economy for an individual with
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC.
(Id.). The VE testified that someone with
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC
would be able to perform the requirements of representative
occupations at the light level such as “(1) price
marker (DOT code: 209.587-034), 280, 000; (2) routing clerk
(DOT code: 222.587-038), 54, 000; and (3) small parts
assembler (DOT code: 706.684-022), 67, 000.” (Tr. at
83). Additionally, at the sedentary level, the VE testified
that representative occupations include “(1) document
preparer (DOT code: 249.587-018), ...