United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Panama City Division
THAI CANNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3) for review of the final determination of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying Richard Milford Padilla's application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381-83. The parties consented to Magistrate
Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 for all proceedings in
this case, including entry of final judgment. Upon review of
the record before the Court, the Court concludes the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) denial of
SSI is supported by substantial evidence. The
Commissioner's decision, therefore, will be affirmed.
Padilla, who will be referred to as Claimant, Plaintiff, or
by name, argues: (1) the ALJ erroneously evaluated the
opinion evidence of record in determining Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”); (2) the ALJ
erroneously evaluated Plaintiff's testimony regarding his
symptoms and limitations; and (3) the vocational testimony
relied upon by the ALJ is inconsistent with the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”). ECF Doc. 15 at 1.
February 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI,
claiming disability with an onset date of November 21, 2011,
related to a learning disability, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder and being overweight. T.
74-75. The Commissioner denied the application
initially and on reconsideration. T. 85, 103. At the hearing,
the Plaintiff amended the alleged onset date to February 10,
2015. T. 33. After the hearing on February 14, 2017, the ALJ
found Claimant not disabled under the Act. T. 15-26. The
Appeals Council denied a request for further review and, as a
result, the ALJ's decision became the final determination
of the Commissioner. T. 1-3.
April 20, 2018, Claimant filed a complaint with this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision. ECF Doc.
1. The Commissioner filed an answer on August 7, 2018,
accompanied by the record below. ECF Docs. 11, 12. On October
9, 2018, Claimant filed a memorandum in support of his
complaint, outlining his assignments of error. ECF Doc. 15.
The Commissioner filed a responsive memorandum in support of
her decision on November 8, 2018. ECF Doc. 16.
federal court reviews the “Commissioner's decision
to determine if it is supported by substantial evidence and
based upon proper legal standards.” Lewis v.
Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir.
1997); see also Carnes v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1215,
1218 (11th Cir. 1991) (“[T]his Court may
reverse the decision of the [Commissioner] only when
convinced that it is not supported by substantial evidence or
that proper legal standards were not applied.”).
Substantial evidence is ‘“such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.”' Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). “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
(11thCir. 1987)). “Even if the evidence
preponderates against the [Commissioner], [the Court] must
affirm if the decision is supported by substantial
evidence.” Sewell v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 1065,
1067 (11th Cir. 1986).
reviewing a Social Security disability case, the Court
‘“may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the
evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner.]”' Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990) (quoting
Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239
(11th Cir. 1983)); see also Hunter v. Soc.
Sec. Admin., Comm'r, 808 F.3d 818, 822
(11th Cir. 2015) (“In determining whether
substantial evidence supports a decision, we give great
deference to the ALJ's factfindings.”) (citing
Black Diamond Coal Min. Co. v. Dir., OWCP, 95 F.3d
1079, 1082 (11th Cir. 1996)). The Court, however,
may not look “only to those parts of the record which
support the ALJ[, ]” but instead “must view the
entire record and take account of evidence in the record
which detracts from the evidence relied on by the ALJ.”
Tieniber v. Heckler, 720 F.2d 1251, 1253
(11th Cir. 1983). Review is deferential to a
point, but the Court must conduct what has been referred to
as “an independent review of the record.”
Flynn v. Heckler, 768 F.2d 1273, 1273
(11th Cir. 1985).
defines disability as an inability “to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). To
qualify as a disability, the physical or mental impairment
must be so severe the Claimant not only is unable to do his
previous work, “but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy[.]” Id. § 1382c(a)(3)(B).
to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4), the Commissioner analyzes
a disability claim in five steps:
1. Is the Claimant performing substantial gainful activity;
if he is, he is not disabled.
2. If the Claimant is not performing substantial gainful
activity, does the Claimant have a severe impairment.
3. If the Claimant is not performing substantial gainful
activity and he has severe impairments that have lasted or
are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12
months, do his impairments meet or medically equal the
criteria of any impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; if so, the Claimant is presumed
disabled without further inquiry.
4. If the severe impairment(s) is not a “listed
impairment, ” does the Claimant have the RFC to perform
his past relevant work.
5. Even if the Claimant's impairments prevent him from
performing his past relevant work, do other jobs exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that accommodate
the Claimant's RFC and vocational factors; if so, he is
OF THE ALJ
written decision, the ALJ made the following findings
pertinent to the issues raised in this appeal:
Claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since February 10, 2015, the application date. T. 17.
Claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity;
history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; mild
intellectual disorder; and mood disorder. T. 17.
Claimant 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 (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925 and
416.926). T. 17.
Claimant has the RFC to perform light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. § 416.967(b) except that he can never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl; and should avoid
concentrated exposure to hazards. Claimant is limited to
simple, routine, non-production tasks. He should be in a
stable work environment where there would be few changes in
the work processes or procedure and any changes would be
gradually introduced. T. 20.
Considering the Claimant's age, education, work
experience and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the Claimant can ...