United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
R. KLINDT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Deloris Thompson (“Plaintiff”) is appealing the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's
(“SSA('s)”) final decision denying her claims
for disability income benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”).
Plaintiff's alleged inability to work is the result of
“chronic ankle pain due to tibia, fibula, ankle
break”; neck spasms; “straightening [of the]
normal cervical lordosis”; type 2 diabetes; high blood
pressure; “c4-c5d central herniation abutting cervical
spinal cord”; “significant degenerative disc
disease in neck”; diverticulitis; “loss of
intervertebral disc space h[ei]ght and signal”;
“c4-c5 par[a]central disc protrusion”; a hiatal
hernia; “esophageal manometry”; “congestive
gastric mucosa”; hemorrhoids; anemia; menorrhagia;
dyspareunia; high cholesterol; and depression. See
Transcript of Administrative Proceedings (Doc. No. 12;
“Tr.” or “administrative
transcript”), filed July 11, 2018, at 77-78, 91-92,
105-06, 122-23, 228 (emphasis omitted). Plaintiff filed an
application for DIB on October 2, 2014 and for SSI on
October 8, 2014,  alleging a disability onset date of August
27, 2014. Tr. at 203 (DIB); Tr. at 205 (SSI). The
applications were denied initially, Tr. at 75, 77-88, 90,
140-42 (DIB); Tr. at 76, 89, 91-102, 137-39 (SSI), and upon
reconsideration, Tr. at 103, 104, 105-18, 148-52 (DIB); Tr.
at 120, 121, 122-35, 153-57 (SSI).
April 12, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing, during which he heard
testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and
a vocational expert (“VE”). Tr. at 49-73.
Plaintiff was forty-six years old at the time of the hearing.
Tr. at 56. The ALJ issued a Decision on June 28, 2017,
finding Plaintiff not disabled through the date of the
Decision. Tr. at 10-21.
28, 2017, Plaintiff requested review of the Decision by the
Appeals Council. Tr. at 202. The Appeals Council received
additional evidence in the form of a brief authored by
Plaintiff's counsel. Tr. at 4-5; see Tr. at
309-10 (brief). On March 15, 2018, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, Tr. at 1-3, thereby
making the ALJ's Decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. On May 3, 2018, Plaintiff commenced this action
under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) by timely
filing a Complaint (Doc. No. 1), seeking judicial review of
the Commissioner's final decision.
appeal, Plaintiff makes the following argument: “The
ALJ's analysis of treating [physician Dr. Rene
Pulido's opinions] regarding Plaintiff's physical
limitations” was erroneous and contrary to law.
Plaintiff's Memorandum - Social Security (Doc. No. 16;
“Pl.'s Mem.”), filed September 10, 2018, at
1, 14 (emphasis omitted). Although most of Plaintiff's
argument revolves around the ALJ's handling of Dr.
Pulido's opinions, Plaintiff also contends that
“[t]he ALJ did not give legally sufficient good reasons
to reject . . . Plaintiff's self-description of her
limitations . . . .” see Pl.'s Mem. at 24;
see id. at 16-24. On December 6, 2018, Defendant
filed a Memorandum in Support of the Commissioner's
Decision (Doc. No. 19; “Def.'s Mem.”)
addressing Plaintiff's arguments. After a thorough review
of the entire record and consideration of the parties'
respective memoranda, the undersigned determines that the
Commissioner's final decision is due to be reversed and
remanded for further administrative proceedings.
The ALJ's Decision
determining whether an individual is disabled,  an ALJ must
follow the five-step sequential inquiry set forth in the Code
of Federal Regulations (“Regulations”),
determining as appropriate whether the claimant (1) is
currently employed or engaging in substantial gainful
activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has an impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
one listed in the Regulations; (4) can perform past relevant
work; and (5) retains the ability to perform any work in the
national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920;
see also Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237
(11th Cir. 2004). The claimant bears the burden of persuasion
through step four, and at step five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146
the ALJ followed the five-step sequential inquiry.
See Tr. at 12-20. At step one, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff “has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 27, 2014, the alleged onset
date.” Tr. at 12 (emphasis and citation omitted). At
step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has the
following severe impairments: history of right lower
extremity fracture with residual limitations, adjustment
disorder, degenerative disk disease, depression, and
osteoarthritis.” Tr. at 12 (emphasis and citation
omitted). At step three, the ALJ ascertained that Plaintiff
“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.” Tr. at 13 (emphasis and
determined that Plaintiff has the following residual
functional capacity (“RFC”):
[Plaintiff can] perform light work as defined in 20 [C.F.R.
§§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)] except limited to
unskilled work not requiring complex instructions or
procedures; no climbing of ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; no
work at unprotected heights or with hazardous machinery;
occasional stooping, crouching, crawling, or kneeling;
frequent use of foot controls with right lower extremity;
occasional climbing of ramps or stairs; frequent overhead
reaching bilaterally; frequent handling bilaterally; frequent
interaction with co-workers and supervisors; and occasional
contact with the general public.
Tr. at 15 (emphasis omitted).
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is “unable to
perform any past relevant work.” Tr. at 19 (emphasis
and citation omitted). At step five, after considering
Plaintiff's age (“44 years old . . . on the alleged
disability onset date”), education (“a limited
education”), work experience, and RFC, the ALJ relied
on the testimony of the VE and found that “there are
jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that [Plaintiff] can perform, ” Tr. at 19
(emphasis and citation omitted), such as “laundry
folder, ” “mail sorter, ” and
“inspector/hand packager, ” Tr. at 20. The ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff “has not been under a
disability . . . from August 27, 2014, through the date of
th[e D]ecision.” Tr. at 30 (emphasis and citation
Standard of Review
Court reviews the Commissioner's final decision as to
disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
1383(c)(3). Although no deference is given to the ALJ's
conclusions of law, findings of fact “are conclusive if
. . . supported by ‘substantial evidence.'”
Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir.
2001) (citing Falge v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1322
(11th Cir. 1998)). “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 (11th Cir. 1987)). The
substantial evidence standard is met when there is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Falge, 150 F.3d at 1322 (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). It is not for this
Court to reweigh the evidence; rather, the entire record is
reviewed to determine whether “the decision reached is
reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.”
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145 (11th
Cir. 1991) (citation omitted). The decision reached by the
Commissioner must be affirmed if it is supported by
substantial evidence-even if the evidence preponderates
against the Commissioner's findings. Crawford v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th
Cir. 2004) (per curiam).
noted above, Plaintiff takes issue with the ALJ's
analysis of Dr. Pulido's opinions and the ALJ's
evaluation of Plaintiff's subjective complaints. The
undersigned addresses each issue in turn.
Dr. Pulido's Opinions
contends that “[t]he ALJ gave ‘little weight'
to Dr. Pulido's opinion, even though it is uncontradicted
by any examining source of record, stating that it was not
consistent with the evidence as a whole, ‘particularly
the objective findings.'” Pl.'s Mem. at 19
(emphasis and citation omitted). Plaintiff argues that
“the ALJ did not offer any details as to which
‘objective findings' did not support the
opinion.” Id. at 19 (citation omitted).
According to Plaintiff, the ALJ's discussion of the
evidence was “extremely selective.” Id.
Defendant identifies the evidence discussed by the ALJ, with
citations to the record. See Def.'s Mem. at 6-8.
In addition, Defendant points to the opinion of Dr. Robert
Steele (the state agency medical consultant who reviewed the
evidence at the reconsideration level), ...