United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.
Michael Kidd appeals the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act. Upon consideration of the briefs submitted by both parties, the record evidence, and the relevant statutory and case law, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS that the Commissioner's final decision be AFFIRMED, that this civil action be CLOSED, and that a final judgment be ENTERED in favor of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff was born on February 10, 1961. Tr. ("R"), 126. He completed the ninth grade and had past relevant work as a construction worker, painter, yard worker, and furniture mover. R. 53, 156-58, 165, 173-76. He applied for DIB and SSI on November 21, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of December 31, 2007. R. 126-37. The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's applications initially and on reconsideration. R. 67-77, 80-89. Plaintiff then requested a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), R. 90, which was held on February 15, 2013. R. 37-66. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, as well as from Dr. Stephen Cosgrove, a Vocational Expert ("VE"). R. 37-66. On April 12, 2013, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. R. 17-36.
Applying the five-step sequential process required by 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 and 416.920, the ALJ found:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 31, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 et seq. & 416.971 et seq. ).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis in the right hip, degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine, and ulcers (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) & 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform less than the full range of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). The claimant can lift or carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He can stand or walk for approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday and sit for approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday with normal breaks. However, the claimant is limited to occasional pushing and pulling with the right lower extremity, frequent balancing and kneeling, and occasional stooping, crouching, crawling and climbing. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565 and 416.965).
5. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform, including garment folder, small products assembler II, and office helper (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 404.1568(d), 416.969, 416.969(a), and 416.968(d). The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from December 31, 2007, through April 12, 2013 (the date of the ALJ's decision) (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
When the Appeals Council ("AC") denied Plaintiff's request for review, R. 1-6, the Commissioner's decision became "final" for the purpose of judicial review. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff then filed this civil action requesting reversal or remand of that adverse decision. Plaintiff argues that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ did not properly analyze evidence of his right hip, back, and neck pain in evaluating Plaintiff's credibility. (See generally doc. no. 11, ("Pl.'s Br.").) The Commissioner maintains that the decision to deny Plaintiff benefits was supported by substantial evidence and should therefore be affirmed. (See generally, doc. no. 12 ("Comm'r's Br.").)
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Judicial review of social security cases is narrow and limited to the following questions: (1) whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence, Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145 (11th Cir. 1991); and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). When considering whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, the reviewing court may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment for the Commissioner's. Cornelius, 936 F.2d at 1145. Notwithstanding this measure of deference, the Court remains obligated ...