United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
CHRISTINE A. GUILLEN, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
G. WILSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff in this case seeks judicial review of the denial of
her claims for Social Security disability benefits and
supplemental security income payments. Because the
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security is supported
by substantial evidence and contains no reversible error, the
decision will be affirmed.
plaintiff, who was thirty-six years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 57) and who has some college
education (Tr. 368), has worked primarily as a radiology
technician (Tr. 371). She filed claims for Social Security
disability benefits and supplemental security income
payments, alleging that she became disabled due to
depression, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, severe pain in
joints of ankles and feet, neuropathy, heart disease and
asthma (Tr. 285). The claims were denied initially and upon
plaintiff, at her request, received a de novo
hearing before an administrative law judge. The law judge
found that the plaintiff had severe impairments of
"metatarsalgia; complex regional pain syndrome;
causalgia; sacroiliac/sacrum dysfunction; bursitis;
sinusitis; asthma; rhinitis; and renal cyst" (Tr. 13).
The law judge concluded that with those impairments the
plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to perform
light work with the following exceptions (Tr. 16):
[T]he claimant can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally;
10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for 2 hours in an 8
hour day; and sit for 6, hours in an 8 hour day. She requires
a sit stand option with an alternating interval of 1-2 hours.
She can constantly push and/or pull with the upper
extremities, reach above shoulder level with both arms, reach
waist to chest with both arms, handle with both hands, finger
with both hands, and feel. She can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs, balance, stoop, and kneel. She must avoid
climbing ladders and scaffolds, crouching, and crawling. She
must avoid working around high, exposed places. She can
tolerate frequent exposure to moving, mechanical parts;
humidity and wetness; pulmonary irritants; extreme cold;
extreme heat; and vibrations. She is able to understand,
remember, and carry out simple detailed instructions.
judge determined that with those limitations the plaintiff
could not perform past relevant work (Tr. 20). However, based
upon evidence from a vocational expert, the law judge found
that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that the plaintiff could perform, such as order clerk
food and beverage, document preparer, and charge account
clerk (Tr. 21-22). Accordingly, on February 16, 2018, the law
judge decided that the plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 22).
plaintiff sought review of the law judge's decision and
submitted additional evidence with that request That evidence
was from April 26-28, 2018; May 9-31, 2018; and June 25-July
5, 2018 (Tr. 2). The Appeals Council, noting that the law
judge decided the case through February 16, 2018, stated,
"This additional evidence does not relate to the period
at issue" (id.). The Appeals Council added that the
evidence "does not affect the decision about whether you
were disabled beginning on or before February 16, 2018"
(id.). As a consequence, the law judge's
"decision is the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security" in the plaintiff s case (Tr. 1).
order to be entitled to Social Security disability benefits
and supplemental security income, 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 12 months." 42 U.S.C.
423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(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), 1382c(a)(3)(D).
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
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 ...