United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUGDE.
McLeod seeks judicial review of a decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her
claim for supplemental security income (SSI) and 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 AFFIRMED.
McLeod applied for SSI and DIB because of a disability she
claims began on March 23, 2006. (Tr. 268-80). Disability
examiners denied Ms. McLeod's applications initially and
after reconsideration. (Tr. 115-36, 141- 65). Ms. McLeod then
requested a hearing before an ALJ, who found Ms. McLeod not
disabled. (Tr. 45-57, 193-96)
Appeals Council denied Ms. McLeod's request for review of
the ALJ's decision, and the ALJ's decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3). Ms. McLeod now
seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's final
decision. (Doc. 1).
NATURE OF DISABILITY CLAIM A. Background
McLeod was fifty-four years old when she submitted her SSI
and DIB applications and fifty-five years old when the ALJ
held the hearing. (Tr. 70, 268, 274). She has a high school
education. (Tr. 70). Ms. McLeod claimed disability because of
“back issues, anxiety, depressed, hands
issues/arthritis, asthma, headaches, acid reflux, [and]
bi-polar [sic].” (Tr. 115, 125).
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
must follow five steps when evaluating a claim for
disability.20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a),
416.920(a). First, if a claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity,  she is not disabled. §§
404.1520(b), 416.920(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, she has no severe impairment and is not disabled.
§§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c); see McDaniel v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1031 (11th Cir. 1986) (stating
that 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), 416.920(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), 416.920(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, she is not disabled. §§
here determined Ms. McLeod engaged in no substantial gainful
activity since her alleged onset date (March 23, 2006). (Tr.
47). The ALJ found Ms. McLeod has the following impairments:
“degenerative disc disease, coronary artery disease,
osteoarthritis of the hands, asthma, limited visual acuity,
anxiety, and depression.” (Id.) (citations
omitted). Nonetheless, the ALJ found Ms. McLeod has no
impairment or combination of impairments that meet or
medically equal the severity of an impairment included in the
Listings. (Tr. 48) (citations omitted).
found Ms. McLeod has the RFC to perform light work with the
[Ms. McLeod] can frequently climb ramps and stairs; never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; frequently stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; occasionally work around dust, odors,
fumes, and pulmonary irritants; and frequently interact with
supervisors and coworkers but never interact with the general
public. Additionally, any job performed cannot require finer
visual acuity than is needed to read ordinary newspaper or
(Tr. 49-50). Based on these findings, the ALJ determined Ms.
McLeod could perform her past relevant work as a cleaner.
(Tr. 55). Alternatively, the ALJ found Ms. McLeod could
perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy, specifically as a small-parts assembler,
marker, and bagger. (Tr. 56). As a result, the ALJ found
McLeod not disabled. (Id.).
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 reasonable
person to accept as enough to support the conclusion.
Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995)
reviewing court must affirm a decision supported by
substantial evidence “even if the proof preponderates
against it.” Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d
1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). The
court must not make new factual determinations, reweigh
evidence, or substitute its judgment for the
Commissioner's decision. Id. at 1240 (citation
omitted). Instead, the court must view the whole record,
considering evidence favorable and unfavorable to the
Commissioner's decision. Foote, 67 F.3d at 1560;
see also Lowery v. Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835, 837 (11th
Cir. 1992) ...