United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ANTHONY E. PORCELLI, JUDGE
seeks judicial review of the partial denial of her claim for
a period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(âDIBâ), and Supplemental Security Income (âSSIâ). As the
Administrative Law Judge's (âALJâ) decision was based on
substantial evidence and employed proper legal standards, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
filed an application for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI
(Tr. 213-221). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's claims
both initially and upon reconsideration (Tr. 87-112).
then requested an administrative hearing (Tr. 135). Per
Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing at which
Plaintiff appeared and testified (Tr. 32-58). Following the
hearing, the ALJ issued a partially favorable decision
finding that the Plaintiff was not disabled prior to December
23, 2014, but became disabled on that date and continued to
be disabled through the date of the decision (Tr.
16-23). Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review
from the Appeals Council, which the Appeals Council denied
(Tr. 1). Plaintiff then timely filed a complaint with this
Court (Doc. 1). The case is now ripe for review under 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3).
Factual Background and the ALJ's Decision
who was born in 1965, claimed disability beginning December
23, 2014 (Tr. 20). Plaintiff obtained a high school education
(Tr. 35). Plaintiff's past relevant work experience
included work as a security officer (Tr. 35). Plaintiff
alleged disability due to IBS, back pain, depression, HBP,
and mesenteric panniculitis (Tr. 78).
rendering the administrative decision, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through
December 31, 2013 and had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since December 23, 2014, the alleged onset date (Tr.
20). After conducting a hearing and reviewing the evidence of
record, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: irritable bowel syndrome, panniculitis, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative disk disease,
cubital tunnel syndrome, and depression. Id.
Notwithstanding the noted impairments, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (Tr.
20-21). The ALJ then concluded that Plaintiff retained a
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work except the claimant requires a sit-stand option
alternating positions from 15-20 minutes; cannot perform work
involving hazards, temperature extremes or climbing; is able
to perform unskilled low-stress jobs, defined as simple,
routine, and repetitive entry-level; and due to pain and
irritable bowel syndrome symptoms with the need for frequent
bathroom visits, she will be off-task greater than 10% of the
time (Tr. 21). In formulating Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ
considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints concerning
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of these
symptoms and found them reasonably consistent with the
medical evidence and other evidence in the record (Tr. 22).
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ determined
Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work (Tr. 22).
Given Plaintiff's background and RFC, the VE testified
that there are no jobs available in the national economy in
significant numbers that the Plaintiff could perform (Tr.
23). Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age, education,
work experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ
found Plaintiff disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the
Social Security Act beginning on December 23, 2014
entitled to benefits, a claimant must be disabled, meaning he
or she must be unable 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. §§
423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). A “physical or mental
impairment” is an impairment that results from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities,
which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques. 42 U.S.C. §§
Social Security Administration, in order to regularize the
adjudicative process, promulgated the detailed regulations
currently in effect. These regulations establish a
“sequential evaluation process” to determine
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920. If an individual is found disabled at any
point in the sequential review, further inquiry is
unnecessary. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a).
Under this process, the ALJ must determine, in sequence, the
following: whether the claimant is currently engaged in
substantial gainful activity; whether the claimant has a
severe impairment, i.e., one that significantly
limits the ability to perform work-related functions; whether
the severe impairment meets or equals the medical criteria of
20 C.F.R. Part 404 Subpart P, Appendix 1; and whether the
claimant can perform his or her past relevant work. If the
claimant cannot perform the tasks required of his or her
prior work, step five of the evaluation requires the ALJ to
decide if the claimant can do other work in the national
economy in view of his or her age, education, and work
experience. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a). A
claimant is entitled to benefits only if unable to perform
other work. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-42
(1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g).
determination by the Commissioner that a claimant is not
disabled must be upheld if it is supported by substantial
evidence and comports with applicable legal standards.
See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3).
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) (internal quotation marks omitted));
Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir.
1996). While the court reviews the Commissioner's
decision with deference to the factual ...