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Neal v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

September 13, 2019

JENELLE NEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          DANIEL C. IRICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Jenelle Neal (Claimant) appeals the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying her application for disability benefits and supplemental security income. Doc. 1. Claimant argues that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) failed to apply the correct legal standard with regard to two physicians' opinions. Doc. 17 at 14, 22. Claimant requests that the case be remanded for further proceedings. Id. at 26. For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's final decision is REVERSED and REMANDED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY.

         This case stems from Claimant's application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Doc. 17 at 1. Claimant alleged a disability onset date of January 2, 2009. Id. The claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. A hearing was conducted and on August 29, 2017, the ALJ found that Claimant was not disabled and issued an unfavorable decision. Id.; R. 12-27.

         II. THE ALJ'S DECISION.

         In the decision, the ALJ found that Claimant has the following severe impairments: morbid obesity, knee degenerative joint disease, gastritis, affective disorder, and anxiety disorder. R. 18. The ALJ further found that Claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals any listed impairment. Id.

         The ALJ held that Claimant has the RFC to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b) with the following specific limitations:

She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs, but never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; avoid: work at heights, work with dangerous machinery, constant vibration, and constant temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Work tasks should be simple 1 to 3 steps, performed independently and repetitively with no interaction with public and only occasional interaction with co-workers and supervisors.

R. 20.

         The ALJ concluded that Claimant was unable to perform her past relevant work. R. 25. The ALJ determined that considering Claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. R. 26. The ALJ ultimately found that Claimant “has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 2, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).” R. 27.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW.

         The scope of the Court's review is limited to determining whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards, and whether the Commissioner's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence. Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (quotations omitted). The Commissioner's findings of fact are conclusive if they are supported by substantial evidence, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which is defined as “more than a scintilla and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997). The Court must view the evidence as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the Commissioner's decision, when determining whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995). The Court may not reweigh evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner, and, even if the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's decision, the reviewing court must affirm it if the decision is supported by substantial evidence. Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Claimant contends that the ALJ did not apply the correct legal standard with respect to Dr. Perdomo's opinion. Doc. 17 at 14. Because the Court agrees that the ALJ erred, it will not review Claimant's second argument relating to Dr. Pena's opinion. Claimant's first argument for assignment of error is really threefold because she asserts that the ALJ misstated the record, ...


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