United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNITED STALES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ann Baldwin appeals the decision of the Acting Commissioner
of Social Security denying her application for 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 the Commissioner's final
decision be AFFIRMED, this civil action be
CLOSED, and a final judgment be
ENTERED in favor of the Commissioner.
applied for SSI on July 8, 2013, alleging a disability onset
date of January 3, 2012. Tr. (“R.”), pp. 20, 261-70.
Plaintiff was forty-three years old at her alleged disability
onset date and was forty-six years old at the time the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued the
decision currently under consideration. R. 31, 45, 261.
applied for benefits based on allegations of anxiety NOS,
mood disorder NOS, dissociative identity, panic disorder, and
rule out schizoaffective disorder. R. 301. Plaintiff
completed a GED. R. 45. Prior to her alleged disability,
Plaintiff's only work history consisted of working one
month at a bait shop. R. 308-15.
Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's
application initially, R. 68-79, and on reconsideration, R.
80-92. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ, R.
133-35, and the ALJ held a hearing on March 4, 2015 and a
supplemental hearing on August 31, 2015. R. 38-67. The ALJ
heard testimony from Plaintiff, who appeared with counsel, as
well as from Joseph Atkinson, a Vocational Expert
(“VE”). Id. On September 4, 2015, the
ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. R. 20-31.
the sequential process required by 20 C.F.R. § 416.920,
the ALJ found:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since July 8, 2013, the application date (20 C.F.R.
§ 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbosacral spine and a
mental impairment (variously characterized) (20 C.F.R. §
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. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925,
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to lift, carry, push, and/or pull 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; occasional
stooping, twisting, and crouching; and sitting, standing,
and/or walking for six hours each in an eight-hour workday.
She retains the ability to understand and follow simple
instructions and directions; perform simple tasks with
supervision and independently; maintain
attention/concentration for simple tasks; regularly attend to
a routine and maintain a schedule; and can relate to and
interact with others to the extent necessary to carry out
simple tasks but should avoid work requiring more complex
interaction or joint efforts to achieve work goals. She
should not have interaction with the public. She can handle
reasonable levels of simple work-related stress in that she
can make simple decisions directly related to the completion
of her tasks and work in a stable, unchanging work
environment. The claimant has no past relevant work (20
C.F.R. § 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 office helper, mail clerk, and small
products assembler (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.969, and
416.969(a)). Therefore, the claimant was not under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since July
8, 2013, the date the application was filed (20 C.F.R. §
the Appeals Council 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.
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 ...