United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
RODNEY F. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. LARKINS III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rodney F. Jackson, who is proceeding pro se, seeks
judicial review of the final decision of the Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying his applications for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income. Jackson contends that this case should be reversed
and remanded because the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) failed to properly evaluate the effect
that his depression has on his ability to manage his physical
symptoms. Liberally construing his argument, he claims that
this resulted in a flawed residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) assessment. He also submits new medical
records with his appeal. After careful consideration of the
record and the briefs of the parties, I
RECOMMEND that the decision of the
Commissioner be AFFIRMED.
25, 2010, Jackson filed applications for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income, alleging a disability onset date of
September 1, 2008. (Tr. 404-14.) The applications were denied
initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 187, 196, 203.)
Jackson initially had a hearing before an ALJ on May 1, 2012.
(Tr. 89-116.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision, but the
Appeals Council remanded the case for further proceedings.
(Tr. 163-77, 183-85.) On remand before a different ALJ,
Jackson testified at a hearing held on January 21, 2016. (Tr.
122-56.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 2,
2016. (Tr. 22-38.) The Appeals Council denied Jackson's
request for review. (Tr. 5-7.) The matter is now ripe for
STANDARD OF REVIEW AND FIVE-PART ANALYSIS
Court must review the Commissioner's decision to ensure
that it is supported by substantial evidence and is based
upon the proper legal standards. Winschel v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011).
Substantial evidence is “more than a scintilla, but
less than a preponderance.” Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983).
Specifically, substantial evidence is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Winschel, 631 F.3d at
1178 (quotation omitted). The Court “may not decide the
facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute [its]
judgment for that of the [Commissioner], ” even if the
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
decision. Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239.
the regulations promulgated by the Commissioner, the ALJ must
follow a five-step sequential analysis when evaluating a
disability claim. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a),
416.920(a). That analysis is as follows:
1. The ALJ first determines whether the applicant is
currently working; if so, the claim is denied.
2. The ALJ determines solely on the basis of the medical
evidence whether the claimed impairment is
“severe”; that is, an impairment or combination
of impairments which significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to do basic work activities; if
not, the claim is denied.
3. The ALJ decides, again, only using medical evidence,
whether the impairment equals or exceeds in severity certain
impairments described in the Commissioner's Listing of
Impairments; if it does, the claimant is automatically
entitled to disability benefits.
4. The ALJ considers whether the applicant has sufficient
RFC, defined as what an individual “can still do
despite his limitations, ” to perform the
claimant's past work; if so, the claim is denied.
5. The ALJ decides, on the basis of the claimant's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, whether the claimant can
perform any other gainful and substantial work within the
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).
claimant has the burden of proof during the first four steps.
Jones v. Apfel, 190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir.
1999). At the fifth step, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate that there are jobs within the
economy that the claimant can perform. Id. If the
Commissioner makes that showing, then the burden shifts back
to the claimant to prove that he is unable to perform those
was 43 years old as of his alleged disability onset date.
(Tr. 133, 404, 408.) He has a GED and most recently worked as
a fast food worker and retail stock clerk, and he previously
worked in a school cafeteria for about 10 years. (Tr. 134-39,
1611.) In 2010, Jackson moved from Iowa to Atlanta, Georgia,
and at times, he has reported that he is homeless. (Tr. 133,