United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on Plaintiff Gail Harris's
Complaint filed on July 14, 2017. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff seeks
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
denying her claim for supplemental security income. 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. §
416.905. The impairment must be severe, making the
claimant unable to do her 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. §§
416.905 -416.911. 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).
1, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental
security income with an alleged onset date of February 15,
2014. (Tr. at 93, 194-202). The application was denied
initially on August 26, 2014, (Tr. at 93), and upon
reconsideration on October 6, 2014, (Tr. at 113). A video
hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Christopher L. Dillon on May 10, 2016.
(Tr. at 33-56). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
August 2, 2016. (Tr. at 10-32). The ALJ found Plaintiff not
to be under a disability since May 1, 2014, the date
Plaintiff's application was filed. (Tr. at 26).
9, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review. (Tr. at 1-6). Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this
Court on July 14, 2017. (Doc. 1). Defendant filed an Answer
on September 26, 2017. (Doc. 13). 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. 17). 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).
one of the sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since May 1, 2014, the application date. (Tr. at 15). At step
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the following
severe impairments: “status-post gunshot wound to the
right lower extremity, degenerative joint and disc diseases,
a gastrointestinal disorder, an affective disorder, an
anxiety-related disorder, and a psychotic disorder.”
(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. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925,
416.926)). (Tr. at 16).
on the evidence, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
RFC to perform work that:
involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with
frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10
pounds; pushing or pulling similar amounts; standing and/or
walking for a total of no more than 2 hours per work day;
sitting for a total of 6 hours; no climbing of ropes,
ladders, or scaffolding; no more than occasional ability to
perform all other postural activity; no foot pedal operation;
no more than occasional interaction with supervisors and
coworkers, but no more than superficial incidental contact
with the public, such as sharing common areas like hallways
and elevators; and no more than simple, routine tasks without
(Tr. at 18).
four, the ALJ made no finding regarding past relevant work.
(Tr. at 24). Specifically, the ALJ noted that it was
appropriate to expedite step four of the sequential
five, considering Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ found that there are jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff can perform. (Id.). Specifically, the ALJ
asked the VE whether jobs exist in the national economy for
an individual with Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC. (Tr. at 25). The VE testified that
someone with Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and RFC would be able to perform the requirements of
representative occupations such as:
1. Small Parts Assembler, (Dictionary of Occupational
Titles) (DOT) Code 706.684-022, which is light,
unskilled work with a specific vocational preparation (SVP)
of 2. According to the vocational expert, there are
approximately 22, 000 such jobs in the national economy.
2. Electronics Worker (DOT Code 726.687-010), which
is light, unskilled work with an SVP of 2. According to the
vocational expert, there are approximately 10, 000 such jobs
in the national economy.
3. Shipping/Receiving Weigher, (DOT Code
222.387-074), which is light, unskilled work with an SVP of
2. According to the vocational expert, there are
approximately 19, 000 jobs in the national economy.
(Tr. at 25).
to Social Security Ruling (“SSR”) 00-4p, the ALJ
determined that the VE's testimony was consistent with
the information contained in the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles. (Id.). Based on the
VE's testimony, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable
of making a successful adjustment to other work that exists
in significant numbers in the national economy.
(Id.). As a result, the ALJ determined that a
finding of “not disabled” was appropriate.
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not under a disability
since May 1, 2014, the date Plaintiff's ...