United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
BEVERLY C. TAVIERE, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
S. SNEED UNTIED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Beverly C. Taviere, seeks judicial review of the denial of
her claim for a period of disability, disability insurance
benefits, and supplemental security income. As the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) decision
was based on substantial evidence and employed proper legal
standards, the decision is affirmed.
filed an application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on July 2, 2015. (Tr. 118,
237-38.) Plaintiff also filed an application for supplemental
security income on July 6, 2015. (Tr. 118, 241-48.) The
Commissioner denied Plaintiff's claims both initially and
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 142-43, 146-47, 153-54, 159-60.)
Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing. (Tr.
164-65.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing
at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr. 1-56.)
Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly denied
Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 118-28.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council, which the Appeals Council denied. (Tr. 135-37.)
Plaintiff then timely filed a Complaint with this Court.
(Dkt. 1) The case is now ripe for review under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
Factual Background and the ALJ's Decision
who was born in 1964, claimed disability beginning on July 1,
2014. (Tr. 118, 241.) Plaintiff has some college education.
(Tr. 8.) Plaintiff's past relevant work experience
included work as an employment background investigator. (Tr.
127.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to post traumatic
stress disorder, insomnia, back pain, and anxiety. (Tr. 279.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since July 1,
2014, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 121.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease and
osteoarthritis/allied disorders. (Tr. 121.) Notwithstanding
the noted impairments, the ALJ determined that 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. 123.) The ALJ
then concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b), except she is precluded from climbing ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds and remains able to no more than
occasionally perform the remaining postural functions. The
claimant remains able to no more than occasionally reach
overhead bilaterally and can frequently reach in all other
directions. The claimant can have no more than occasional
exposure to vibration and workplace hazards such as
unprotected heights and moving machinery.
(Tr. 124.) In formulating Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ
considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints and
determined that, although the evidence established the
presence of underlying impairments that reasonably could be
expected to produce the symptoms alleged, Plaintiff's
statements as to the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of her symptoms were not entirely consistent with the
record. (Tr. 126.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as an
employment background investigator. (Tr. 127-28.)
Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 128.)
entitled to benefits, a claimant must be disabled, meaning
that the claimant must be unable to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result
in death or that 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 that are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(3), 1382c(a)(3)(D).
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. § 416.920. If
an individual is found disabled at any point in the
sequential review, further inquiry is unnecessary. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a). Under this process, the ALJ must
determine, in sequence, the following: (1) whether the
claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful
activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment,
i.e., one that significantly limits the ability to perform
work-related functions; (3) whether the severe impairment
meets or equals the medical criteria of 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; and, (4) 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 ...