United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Mayor seeks judicial review of a decision by the Commissioner
of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her claim for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g). After reviewing the record,
including a transcript of the proceedings before the
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), administrative record,
pleadings, and joint memorandum the parties submitted, the
Commissioner's decision is REMANDED for
further consideration consistent with this order.
Mayor applied for DIB benefits because of a disability she
claims began on October 1, 2014. (Tr. 174-77). Disability
examiners denied Ms. Mayor's application initially and
after reconsideration. (Tr. 61-70, 73-86). Ms. Mayor then
requested a hearing before an ALJ, who found Ms. Mayor not
disabled. (Tr. 16-22, 101-02).
Appeals Council denied Ms. Mayor's request for review of
the ALJ's decision; so, the ALJ's decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6). Ms. Mayor
seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's final
decision. (Doc. 1).
NATURE OF DISABILITY CLAIM
Mayor was forty-six years old when she submitted her DIB
application, and she was forty-eight years old when the ALJ
held the hearing. (Tr. 33, 174). Ms. Mayor has some college
education, including a medical-assisting degree. (Tr. 33).
She has past relevant work as an investigator, instructor,
and medical assistant. (Tr. 56). She claimed disability
because of “severe cervical spinal stenosis” and
severe migraines. (Tr. 61).
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
must follow five steps when evaluating a claim for
disability.20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). First, if a
claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity,
is not disabled. § 404.1520(b). Second, if a claimant
has no impairment or combination of impairments that
significantly limit her physical or mental ability to perform
basic work activities, then she has no severe impairment and
is not disabled. § 404.1520(c); see McDaniel v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1031 (11th Cir. 1986) (stating
step two acts as a filter and “allows only claims based
on the most trivial impairments to be rejected”).
Third, if a claimant's impairments fail to meet or equal
an impairment included in the Listings, she is not disabled.
§ 404.1520(d); 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1.
Fourth, if a claimant's impairments do not prevent her
from performing past relevant work, she is not disabled. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(e). At this fourth step, the ALJ
determines the claimant's residual functional capacity
(RFC). Fifth, if a claimant's impairments
(considering her RFC, age, education, and past work) do not
prevent her from performing other work that exists in the
national economy, then she is not disabled. §
the ALJ determined Ms. Mayor engaged in no substantial
gainful activity since her alleged onset date. (Tr. 18). The
ALJ found Ms. Mayor has a severe impairment: degenerative
disc disease. (Id.). Nonetheless, the ALJ found Ms.
Mayor has no impairment that meets or medically equals the
severity of an impairment included in the Listings. (Tr. 19)
then found Ms. Mayor has the RFC to perform sedentary work,
which includes the following abilities:
[T]he ability to lift and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally and
frequently and stand and/or walk 3 hours and sit 6 hours in
an 8hour workday. She may occasionally climb ramps/stairs,
climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch
and crawl. Finally, [Ms. Mayor] must avoid concentrated
exposure to heat, cold, vibration and hazards and is limited
to only frequent handling and fingering with both hands.
(Tr. 19) (citation omitted). Based on these findings, the ALJ
determined Ms. Mayor could perform her past relevant work as
an investigator. (Tr. 22). The ALJ therefore found Ms. Mayor
not disabled from her alleged onset date through the date of
the ALJ's decision (July 6, 2017). (Tr. 22).
Standard of Review
of the ALJ's decision is limited to determining whether
the ALJ applied correct legal standards and whether
substantial evidence supports his findings. McRoberts v.
Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir. 1988);
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971).
Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla but less
than a preponderance. Dale v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). In other
words, there must be sufficient evidence for a ...