United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
R. KLINDT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Santos Santonil (“Plaintiff”) is appealing the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's
(“SSA('s)”) final decision denying her claim
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”).
Plaintiff's alleged inability to work is a result of back
pain, arm pain, neck pain, Diabetes Type II, and headaches.
Transcript of Administrative Proceedings (Doc. No. 10;
“ T r . ” or “administrative
transcript”), filed September 6, 2017, at 133, 142.
Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on August 29, 2012,
alleging an onset disability date of October 7, 2011. Tr. at
288. Plaintiff's application was denied initially,
see Tr. at 141, 133-140, and was denied upon
reconsideration, see Tr. at 152, 142-151.
September 11, 2014, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing, during which he heard
from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a
vocational expert (“VE”). Tr. at 105-132. The ALJ
issued a decision on January 14, 2015, finding Plaintiff not
disabled through the date of the decision. Tr. at 156-163. On
February 10, 2017, the Appeals Council granted
Plaintiff's request for review, Tr. at 168-170, vacated
the decision, and remanded the case to the ALJ “for
resolution of the following issues: the [decision] does not
contain an adequate evaluation of the non-examining source
opinion [of Charles E. Moore, M.D.] . . . . The decision
assigns Dr. Moore's opinion significant weight but does
not provide adequate rationale for rejecting the manipulative
limitations. Further, consideration of the opinion is
necessary pursuant to 20 [C.F.R. §] 404.1527(e), ”
Tr. at 169 (citations omitted).
October 3, 2016, the same ALJ held a second hearing, during
which he heard from Plaintiff, who was again represented by
counsel, and a VE. Tr. at 72-102. The ALJ issued a Decision
on November 18, 2016, finding Plaintiff not disabled through
the date of the Decision. Tr. at 57-64. On May 18, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
Tr. at 1-4, thereby making the ALJ's Decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. On June 30, 2017, Plaintiff
commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by timely
filing a Complaint (Doc. No. 1), seeking judicial review of
the Commissioner's final decision.
appeal, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in the following
ways: (1) “by not assigning weight to the opinions of .
. . treating physician[s] [Paulo Monteiro, M.D., and Herman
Downey, M.D., ]” and (2) “[by] not considering
the effects of [Plaintiff's] pain.” Memorandum in
Support of Complaint (Doc. No. 15; “Pl.'s
Mem.”), filed September 15, 2017, at 6 (capitalization
and emphasis omitted). On February 1, 2018, Defendant filed a
Memorandum in Support of the Commissioner's Decision
(Doc. No. 18; “Def.'s Mem.”) addressing
Plaintiff's arguments. After a thorough review of the
entire record and consideration of the parties'
respective memoranda, the undersigned determines that the
Commissioner's final decision is due to be affirmed.
The ALJ's Decision
determining whether an individual is disabled,  an ALJ must
follow the five-step sequential inquiry set forth in the Code
of Federal Regulations (“Regulations”),
determining as appropriate whether the claimant (1) is
currently employed or engaging in substantial gainful
activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has an impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
one listed in the Regulations; (4) can perform past relevant
work; and (5) retains the ability to perform any work in the
national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920;
see also Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237
(11th Cir. 2004). The claimant bears the burden of persuasion
through step four and, at step five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146
the ALJ followed the five-step sequential inquiry.
See Tr. at 59-64. At step one, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff “engaged in substantial gainful activity
through the second quarter of 2012[, but that] there has been
a continuous 12-month [period] during which [Plaintiff] did
not engage in substantial gainful activity.” Tr. at 59
(emphasis and citations omitted). Thus, the remaining steps
“address[ed] the period(s) [Plaintiff] did not engage
in substantial gainful activity.” Tr. at 59 (emphasis
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has the following
severe impairments: diabetes mellitus; diverticulitis;
obesity; and degenerative dis[c] disease of the cervical
spine, status post [anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
(ACDF) surgery].” Tr. at 59 (emphasis and citation
omitted). At step three, the ALJ ascertained that Plaintiff
“does 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.” Tr. at 60 (emphasis and
determined that Plaintiff has the following residual
functional capacity (“RFC”):
[Plaintiff can] perform light work as defined in 20 [C.F.R.
§] 404.1567(b) and can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs but never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. [Plaintiff]
can balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl all on an
occasional basis. [Plaintiff] is limited to occasional
bilateral overhead reaching, frequent bilateral handling, and
frequent bilateral fingering. She cannot tolerate
concentrated exposure to vibrations.
Tr. at 60 (emphasis omitted).
four, the ALJ relied on the testimony of the VE and found
that Plaintiff is “capable of performing past relevant
work as a billing clerk as generally performed per the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles.” Tr. at 62 (emphasis
and citation omitted). The ALJ then proceeded to make
alternative findings regarding the fifth and final step of
the sequential inquiry. See Tr. at 63. At step five,
after considering Plaintiff's age (“57 years old .
. . on the alleged disability onset date”), education
(“at least a high school education”), work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ stated that Plaintiff has
“acquired work skills from past relevant work that are
transferable to other occupations with jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy.” Tr. at
63. Relying on the testimony of the VE, the ALJ found that
“[Plaintiff] could perform the job of a billing
clerk.” Tr. at 63 (citation omitted). The ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff “has not been under a disability . . .
from October 7, 2011, through the date of th[e
D]decision.” Tr. at 64 (emphasis and citation omitted).
Standard of Review
Court reviews the Commissioner's final decision as to
disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g).
Although no deference is given to the ALJ's conclusions
of law, findings of fact “are conclusive if . . .
supported by ‘substantial evidence' . . . .”
Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir.
2001) (citing Falge v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1322
(11th Cir. 1998)). “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)). The
substantial evidence standard is met when there is
“‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'”
Falge, 150 F.3d at 1322 (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). It is not for this
Court to reweigh the evidence; rather, the entire record is
reviewed to determine whether “the decision reached is
reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.”
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145 (11th
Cir. 1991) (internal quotation and citations omitted);
see also McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080
(11th Cir. 1988); Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999
(11th Cir. 1987). The decision reached by the Commissioner
must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial
evidence-even if the evidence preponderates against the
Commissioner's findings. Crawford v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004) (per
noted, Plaintiff takes issue with the ALJ's failure to
give weight to the opinions of Dr. Monteiro and Dr. Downey,
as well as his alleged failure to take into account the
effects of Plaintiff's pain. The relevant medical