United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS N. FRAZIER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Theresa Scott, seeks judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
denying her claim for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). 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 setting forth their respective
positions. For the reasons set out herein, the Court finds
that the decision of the Commissioner is due to be
AFFIRMED pursuant to § 205(g) of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C § 405(g).
Social Security Act Eligibility, Procedural History, Standard
of Review, and ALJ's Findings
defines disability as the 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. §§ 416(I), 423(d)(1); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1505. The impairment must be severe, making
Plaintiff unable to do her previous work, or any other
substantial gainful activity which exists in the national
economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d) (2); 20 C.F.R. §§
filed applications for DIB and SSI on August 7, 2014,
alleging disability beginning May 1, 2013. (Tr. 190-91,
192-96). Plaintiff subsequently amended her alleged onset
date to October 2, 2013. (Tr. 217). Plaintiff's
applications were denied initially on October 8, 2014, and
upon reconsideration on December 9, 2014. (Tr. 64, 78, 88,
98). Plaintiff requested a hearing and on February 16, 2017,
an administrative hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge Gregory Froehlich (the “ALJ”). (Tr. 32-55).
On April 25, 2017, the ALJ rendered his decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 13-28). Plaintiff requested
review of the decision which the Appeals Council denied
review on February 6, 2018. (Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff initiated
this action by Complaint (Doc. 1) on March 29, 2018.
Standard of Review
Commissioner's findings of fact are conclusive if
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g).
“Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate support to a conclusion. Even if the evidence
preponderated against the Commissioner's findings, we
must affirm if the decision reached is supported by
substantial evidence.” Crawford v.
Comm'r., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004)
(citing Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th
Cir. 1997)); Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529
(11th Cir. 1990). In conducting this review, this Court may
not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that
of the ALJ, but must consider the evidence as a whole, taking
into account evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the
decision. Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1329, 1330
(11th Cir. 2002); Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553,
1560 (11th Cir. 1995). However, the District Court will
reverse the Commissioner's decision on plenary review if
the decision applied incorrect law, or if the decision fails
to provide sufficient reasoning to determine that the
Commissioner properly applied the law. Keeton v.
Dep't. of Health & Human Servs., 21 F.3d 1064,
1066 (11th Cir. 1994). The Court reviews de novo the
conclusions of law made by the Commissioner of Social
Security in a disability benefits case. Social Security Act,
§ 205(g), 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(g).
must follow five steps in evaluating a claim of disability.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step one, the
claimant must prove that she is not undertaking substantial
gainful employment. Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274,
1278 (11th Cir. 2001), see 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i). If a claimant is engaging in any
substantial gainful activity, she will be found not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(I).
two, the claimant must prove that she is suffering from a
severe impairment or combination of impairments.
Doughty, 245 F.3d at 1278, 20 C.F.R. §
1520(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant's impairment or
combination of impairments does not significantly limit her
physical or mental ability to do basic work activities, the
ALJ will find that the impairment is not severe, and the
claimant will be found not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
three, the claimant must prove that her impairment meets or
equals one of impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Sbpt.
P. App. 1. Doughty, 245 F.3d at 1278, 20 C.F.R.
§ 1520(a)(4)(iii). If she meets this burden, she will be
considered disabled without consideration of age, education
and work experience. Doughty, 245 F.3d at 1278.
four, if the claimant cannot prove that her impairment meets
or equals one of the impairments listed in Appendix 1, she
must prove that her impairment prevents her from performing
her past relevant work. Id. At this step, the ALJ
will consider the claimant's RFC and compare it with the
physical and mental demands of her past relevant work. 20
C.F.R. § 1520(a)(4)(iv), 20 C.F.R. § 1520(f) . If
the claimant can still perform her past relevant work, then
she will not be found disabled. Id.
five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to prove that the
claimant is capable of performing other work available in the
national economy, considering the claimant's RFC, age,
education, and past work experience. Doughty, 245
F.3d at 1278, 20 C.F.R. § 1520(a)(4)(v). If the claimant
is capable of performing other work, she will be found not
disabled. Id. In determining whether the
Commissioner has met this burden, the ALJ must develop a full
and fair record regarding the vocational opportunities
available to the claimant. Allen v. Sullivan, 880
F.2d 1200, 1201 (11th Cir. 1989). There are two ways in which
the ALJ may make this determination. The first is by applying
the Medical Vocational Guidelines (“grids”), and
the second is by the use of a vocational expert. Phillips
v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1239 (11th Cir. 2004). Only
after the Commissioner meets this burden does the burden
shift back to Claimant to show that she is not capable of
performing the “other work” as set forth by the
Commissioner. Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278
n.2 (11th Cir. 2001).