United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS, JUDGE
Grant appeals the decision of the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security denying his application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) 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, pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), the Commissioner's final decision
be REVERSED and the case be
REMANDED to the Commissioner for further
consideration in accordance with this opinion.
applied for DIB in December of 2013, alleging a disability
onset date of November 18, 2013. Tr. (“R.”), pp.
69-71. Plaintiff's last insured date for purposes of the
DIB application was December 31, 2017. R. 70. Plaintiff was
thirty-four years old on his alleged disability onset date.
Id. Plaintiff applied for benefits based on
allegations of spinal cord injury, back injury, diabetes,
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gastrointestinal
problems. Id. Plaintiff has a tenth grade education,
and prior to his alleged disability, Plaintiff had accrued
relevant work history as a fiberglass machine operator,
material handler, yarn texturing machine operator, poultry
dresser, lumber grader, and stock clerk. R. 41, 63, 69.
Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's
applications initially, R. 91-94, and on reconsideration, R.
96-99. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”), R. 104-05, and the ALJ held a
hearing on January 8, 2016. R. 48-68. At the hearing, the ALJ
heard testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by
counsel, as well as from Larry L. Shedd, a Vocational Expert
(“VE”). Id. On January 13, 2016, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision. R. 36-43.
the sequential process required by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520,
the ALJ found:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since November 18, 2013, the alleged onset date (20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; hypertension;
and diabetes (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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,
4. The claimant has the RFC to perform light work as defined
in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b),  except he can frequently
climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; can occasionally stoop;
and must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards such as
machinery, heights, and similar circumstances. Thus, the
claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a
lumber grader. This work does not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by the claimant's RFC
(20 C.F.R. § 404.1565).
the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform his past relevant
work, the sequential evaluation process stopped, and the ALJ
concluded Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, from November 18, 2013, through the
date of the decision, January 13, 2016. R. 43. When the
Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's
request for review, R. 7-13, 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
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review of social security cases is narrow and limited to the
following questions: (1) whether the Commissioner's
findings are supported by substantial evidence, and (2)
whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards.
Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir.
1997). 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. Moore
v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211 (11th Cir. 2005);
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145 (11th
Cir. 1991). Notwithstanding this measure of deference, the
Court remains ...