United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. Collier Senior United States District Judge.
case is now before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) of the Act for review of a final determination of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying Plaintiff's application for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 401-34.
review of the record before this court, it is the opinion of
the undersigned that the findings of fact and determinations
of the Commissioner are supported by substantial evidence;
thus, the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.
March 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, and in
the application she alleged disability beginning February 15,
2013 (tr. 15). Her application was denied initially and
on reconsideration, and thereafter Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). A hearing was held on January 17, 2017,
and on July 5, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision in which she
found Plaintiff “not disabled, ” as defined under
the Act, at any time through the date of her decision (tr.
15-26). On April 26, 2018, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review (tr. 1). Thus, the
decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner, subject to review in this court. Ingram v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1262
(11th Cir. 2007).
FINDINGS OF THE ALJ
5, 2017, (date of ALJ decision), the ALJ made several
findings relative to the issues raised in this appeal (tr.
1) Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the
Act on September 30, 2014;
2) Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity
during the period from her alleged onset date of February 15,
2013 through her date last insured of September 30, 2014;
3) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's
thyroiditis, hypertension, fibromyalgia, diabetes mellitus,
gastroparesis, ulcerative colitis, and osteoporosis;
4) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments
in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;
5) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) except for the following limitations:
Plaintiff should avoid climbing ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds. She should avoid work at unprotected heights and
around hazardous machinery;
6) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff was capable of
performing past relevant work as a cosmetologist. This work
did not require the performance of work-related activities
precluded by Plaintiff's residual functional capacity;
7) Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined in the
Act, at any time from February 15, 2013, the alleged onset
date, through September 30, 2014, the date last
STANDARD OF REVIEW
of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the decision is supported by substantial
evidence from the record and was a result of the application
of proper legal standards. Carnes v. Sullivan, 936
F.2d 1215, 1218 (11th Cir. 1991) (“[T]his Court may
reverse the decision of the [Commissioner] only when
convinced that it is not supported by substantial evidence or
that proper legal standards were not applied.”);
see also Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439
(11th Cir. 1997); Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999
(11th Cir. 1987). “A determination that is supported by
substantial evidence may be meaningless . . . if it is
coupled with or derived from faulty legal principles.”
Boyd v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 1207, 1209 (11th Cir.
1983), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated
in Elam v. R.R. Ret. Bd., 921 F.2d 1210, 1214 (11th Cir.
1991). As long as proper legal standards were applied, the
Commissioner's decision will not be disturbed if in light
of the record as a whole the decision appears to be supported
by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Falge
v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1322 (11th Cir. 1998);
Lewis, 125 F.3d at 1439; Foote v. Chater,
67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995). Substantial evidence is
more than a scintilla, but not a preponderance; it is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 1427, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated
Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 59 S.Ct. 206, 217, 83
L.Ed. 126 (1938)); Lewis, 125 F.3d at 1439. The
court may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner.
Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir.
1990) (citations omitted). Even if the evidence preponderates
against the Commissioner's decision, the decision must be
affirmed if supported by substantial evidence. Sewell v.
Bowen, 792 F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986).
defines a disability as an “inability 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 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To qualify as a
disability the physical or mental impairment must be so
severe that the claimant is not only unable to do her/his
previous work, “but cannot, considering [her] age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy.” Id. § 423(d)(2)(A).
to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(g), the Commissioner
analyzes a disability claim in five steps:
the claimant is performing substantial gainful activity, she
is not disabled.
the claimant is not performing substantial gainful activity,
her impairments must be severe before she can be found
the claimant is not performing substantial gainful activity
and she has severe impairments that have lasted or are
expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve
months, and if her impairments meet or medically equal the
criteria of any impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1, the claimant is presumed disabled
without further inquiry.
the claimant's impairments do not prevent her from doing
her past ...