United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
SUSAN G. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
G. WILSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff in this case seeks judicial review of the denial of
her claim for Social Security disability
benefits. Because the decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security is supported by substantial evidence, and
the plaintiff does not identify reversible error, the
decision will be affirmed.
plaintiff, who was fifty-one years old at the time of the
administrative hearing, and who has a high school education,
has past work as a scan price clerk, administrative
coordinator and produce clerk (Tr. 60-61, 184). She filed a
claim for Social Security disability benefits, alleging that
she became disabled due to rheumatoid arthritis,
hyperglycemia and high liver enzymes (Tr. 70). The claims
were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
plaintiff, at her request, received a de novo
hearing before an administrative law judge. The law-judge
found that the plaintiff has a severe impairment of
rheumatoid arthritis (Tr. 22). She concluded (Tr. 23):
[T]he [plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), with
frequent, bilateral pushing/pulling with the upper
extremities. The claimant can frequently handle and finger
bilaterally with the upper extremities. She cannot climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds, and can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs-. The claimant can frequently stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl, as well as tolerate frequent exposure to
extreme cold and vibration.
judge, based on the testimony of a vocational expert,
determined (Tr. 26):
The [plaintiff] is capable of performing past relevant work
as a price scanner/ma[r]ker, both as performed by the
claimant and as generally performed in the national economy.
The claimant is also capable of performing past relevant work
as a supermarket administrative coordinator, as performed by
the claimant. All of this work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by the
claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
judge therefore decided that the plaintiff was not disabled
through the date of the decision (Tr. 27).
plaintiff then sought review from the Appeals Council
(see Tr. 1). The Appeals Court received as
additional evidence the plaintiffs "Requests] for Review
of Hearing Decision Order with Representative Brief (Tr. 5).
The Appeals Council denied the request for review, stating
that "[w]e found that the reasons do not provide a basis
for changing the Administrative Law Judge's
decision" (Tr. 1). Accordingly, the Appeals Council let
the decision of the law judge stand as the final decision of
the Commissioner (Id.)
order to be entitled to Social Security disability benefits,
a claimant must be unable "to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment 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). A "physical
or mental impairment, " under the terms of the Act, is
one "that results from anatomical, physiological, or
psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by
medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic
techniques." 42 U.S.C. 423(d)(3). The Act provides
further that a claimant is not disabled if* she is capable of
performing her previous work. 42 U.S.C. 423(d)(2)(A).
determination by the Commissioner that a claimant is not
disabled must be upheld if it is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. 405(g). 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 Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S.
197, 229 (1938). Under the substantial evidence test,
"findings of fact made by administrative agencies ...
may be reversed ... only when the record compels a reversal;
the mere fact that the record may support a contrary
conclusion is not enough to justify a reversal of the
administrative findings." Adefemi v.
Ashcroft. 386 F.3d 1022, 1027 (11th Cir.
2004) (en banc), cert. denied. 544 U.S.
moreover, the function of the Commissioner, and not the
courts, to resolve conflicts in the evidence and to assess
the credibility of the witnesses. Grant v.
Richardson, 445 F.2d 656 (5th Cir. 1971).
Similarly, it is the responsibility of the Commissioner to
draw inferences from the evidence, and those inferences are
not to be overturned if they are supported by substantial
evidence. Celebrezze v. O'Brient. 323
F.2d 989, 990 (5th Cir. 1963).
in determining whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence, the court is not to
reweigh the evidence, but is limited to determining whether
the record as a whole contains sufficient evidence to permit
a reasonable mind to conclude that the claimant is not
disabled. However, the court, in its review, must satisfy
itself that the proper legal ...