United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Linda T.
Walker's Final Report and Recommendation 
(“Final R&R”). The Final R&R recommends the Court
affirm the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) to deny Plaintiff Zachery
Stone's (“Plaintiff”) application for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and
supplemental security income under the Social Security Act.
Plaintiff did not file objections to the Final R&R.
November 5, 2012, Plaintiff filed applications for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental
security income (“SSI”) alleging disability
beginning on September 1, 2005. (Transcript 
(“Tr.”) at 16, 198-208). Plaintiff's claims
were denied initially, and on reconsideration on July 31,
2013. (Tr. 16, 107-08, 137-38). Plaintiff appealed the denial
to an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) and an
administrative hearing was held on February 6, 2015. (Tr.
28-77). At the hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged onset
date to November 5, 2012, which was after the expiration of
the date she was last insured, June 30, 2010. (Tr. 16). In
effect, Plaintiff withdrew her request for a hearing with
respect to her application for DIB under Title II of the Act,
as amended. (Id.). The ALJ noted there was little
treatment and no real evidence of a disabling impairment
prior to the expiration of Plaintiff's insured status on
November 5, 2012, and dismissed Plaintiff's request for
hearing on DIB. (Id.).
10, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's SSI claim finding that she was not disabled.
(Tr. 13-22). On August 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a request for
review of the ALJ's Decision. (Tr. 8-12). The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on July 21,
2016. (Tr. 1-7). Plaintiff, having exhausted all
administrative remedies, filed this action on September 22,
Facts and ALJ's Findings
who was fifty-six to fifty-eight years old during the
relevant period, alleges a disability due to arthritis and
panic attacks. (Tr. 37, 198-208, 417). Plaintiff has an
eleventh grade education and past relevant work as a
cafeteria food service worker and kitchen helper. (Tr. 37,
67-68). Plaintiff last worked in 2005 and initially alleged
she became disabled on September 1, 2005, due to arthritis
and panic attacks. (Tr. 16, 198-208). According to the ALJ,
Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act on June 30, 2010. (Tr. 18). The ALJ found
that Plaintiff has not engaged is substantial gainful
activity since November 5, 2012. (Id.). The ALJ
found further that there are no medical signs or laboratory
findings to substantiate the existence of a medically
determinable impairment. (Id.). Finally, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff has not been under a disability, as
defined in the Social Security Act, from November 5, 2012,
through the date of its decision. (Tr. 22).
finding, the ALJ noted that at the hearing on February 6,
2015, Plaintiff presented with a one-prong cane. (Tr. 19).
She testified that she could stand for one hour and walk two
blocks, but would experience pain thereafter. (Id.).
Plaintiff stated that she can stand or walk for two hours
total and sit for a total of two hours or four hours
“off and on.” (Id.). She testified that
she could lift two pounds with one or both arms, but to do so
was painful. (Id.). Plaintiff further testified that
she could not bend and can only reach down to her thighs
while standing. (Id.). She alleged that pain affects
her ability to focus. (Id.). Plaintiff also stated
that she has problems with anxiety and depression.
also noted that Plaintiff did not provide any medical
evidence to support her allegations of mental disability
during the period at issue. (Id.). The ALJ observed
that Plaintiff only takes Valerian, an herbal preparation,
for her alleged mental health conditions and that the record
reflects no mental health treatment or counseling even though
Plaintiff has access to free or low cost healthcare through
the Grady Health System. (Id.).
gave “lesser weight” to the opinion of Anne
Moore, PsyD, rendered at a January 19, 2013, consultative
psychological evaluation. (Tr. 20). Dr. Moore concluded that
Plaintiff's ability to interact appropriately with
co-workers, supervisors, and the general public was
“moderately compromised, ” and her ability to
sustain attention, persistence, and pack was moderately to
markedly compromised as “she seemed to become
preoccupied with internal distress and was unable to
[deescalate].” (Id.). Dr. Moore noted that
Plaintiff was unaccompanied and took public transportation to
the appointment, had full orientation and knew the
interviewer's purpose, and had average short-term memory.
The ALJ gave lesser weight to Dr. Moore's opinions
because they appeared to endorse Plaintiff's subjective
recitation of her alleged mental health concerns and were
“out of line with and unsupported by the remainder of
the objective medical evidence of record.”
gave substantial weight to the opinion of Bobby A. Crocker,
M.D., who reported that Plaintiff had a normal physical
examination without evidence of any physical impairment. The
ALJ also assessed treatment notes from Erica J. Han, M.D. at
Grady Memorial Hospital, which reveal that Plaintiff
exercises regularly, engaging in yoga and squats. The ALJ
found Plaintiff's testimony less credible because no one
prescribed her cane, and “there is no objective indicia
that would support her allegations of pain and functional
limitation.” (Tr. 20). The ALJ further noted that there
is no credible treating physician of record. The ALJ
concluded that there are no medical signs or laboratory
findings to substantiate the existence of a medically
determinable impairment and Plaintiff has not been under a
disability as defined in the Social Security Act.
contends that the Commissioner erred in finding that
Plaintiff did not have any severe impairments. ( at
7-15). Plaintiff argues that the Commissioner failed to
proceed to step three of the five-part analysis after finding
Plaintiff has no medically severe impairments. Further,
Plaintiff relies on Dr. Han's finding that the motion in
Plaintiff's right shoulder was severely limited due to
pain. In addition to her shoulder, Plaintiff alleges severe
impairments to her lungs and heart, chest and back pain,
anxiety disorders, and affective disorders. To support her
allegation that she suffers from anxiety and depressive
disorders, Plaintiff relies on the opinions of Dr. Moore,
arguing that the ALJ erred in giving lesser weight to Dr.
Moore's opinions. In response, the Commissioner argues
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that
Plaintiff did not have a medically determinable impairment.
January 18, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued her Final R&R.
The Magistrate Judge determined that the ALJ did not err by
finding that Plaintiff did not have any medically
determinable impairments because the ALJ's decision
appears to be decided under the proper standards and
supported by substantial evidence. The Magistrate Judge found
that the ALJ properly discounted Plaintiff's credibility,
properly discounted the opinions of Drs. Han and Moore, and
properly relied on objective evidence in the record and the
opinions of several psychological and medical examiners and
consultants. The Magistrate Judge recommended that ...