United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
ORDER AND OPINION 
J. BAVEKMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jessica Shanks (“Plaintiff”) brought this action
pursuant to section 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3), to obtain judicial review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“the Commissioner”) denying her
application for Supplemental Security Income Benefits
(“SSI”) under the Social Security
For the reasons below, the undersigned
AFFIRMS the final decision of the
filed an application for SSI on July 20, 2012, alleging
disability commencing on September 30, 2011. [Record
(hereinafter “R”) 213]. Plaintiff's
applications were denied initially and on reconsideration.
[See R101-08]. Plaintiff then requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
[R109-11]. An evidentiary hearing was held on July 22, 2014.
[R31-67]. The ALJ issued a decision on September 19, 2014,
denying Plaintiff's application on the ground that she
had not been under a “disability” from the
application date through the date of the decision. [R17-28].
Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals Council
(“AC”), and the AC accepted Plaintiff's
request for review and denied Plaintiff's application for
benefits on July 28, 2016, making the AC's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. [R4-12].
then initiated her action in this Court on January 23, 2017,
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision. [Doc. 1].
The answer and transcript were filed on May 31, 2017.
[See Docs. 6, 7]. On August 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed
a brief in support of her petition for review of the
Commissioner's decision, [Doc. 11], and on September 1,
2017, the Commissioner filed a response in support of the
decision, [Doc. 12]. The matter is now before the Court upon
the administrative record, the parties' pleadings, and
the parties' briefs, and it is accordingly ripe for
review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
STANDARD FOR DETERMINING DISABILITY
individual is considered disabled for purposes of disability
benefits if he is unable to “engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result
in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). The impairment or impairments
must result from anatomical, psychological, or physiological
abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically accepted
clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques and must be of
such severity that the claimant is not only unable to do
previous work but cannot, considering age, education, and
work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work that exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382c(a)(3)(B), (D).
burden of proof in a Social Security disability case is
divided between the claimant and the Commissioner. The
claimant bears the primary burden of establishing the
existence of a “disability” and therefore
entitlement to disability benefits. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.912(a). The Commissioner uses a five-step
sequential process to determine whether the claimant has met
the burden of proving disability. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a); Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274,
1278 (11th Cir. 2001); Jones v. Apfel,
190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999). The claimant
must prove at step one that he is not undertaking substantial
gainful activity. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(i). At step two, the claimant must prove that
he is suffering from a severe impairment or combination of
impairments that significantly limits his ability to perform
basic work-related activities. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(ii). At step three, if the impairment meets one
of the listed impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part
404 (Listing of Impairments), the claimant will be considered
disabled without consideration of age, education, and wor k
ex perience. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(iii). At step four, if the claimant is unable
to prove the existence of a listed impairment, he must prove
that his impairment prevents performance of past relevant
work. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv). At
step five, the regulations direct the Commissioner to
consider the claimant's residual functional capacity,
age, education, and past work experience to determine whether
the claimant can perform other work besides past relevant
work. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v). The
Commissioner must produce evidence that there is other work
available in the national economy that the claimant has the
capacity to perform. Doughty, 245 F.3d at 1278 n.2.
To be considered disabled, the claimant must prove an
inability to perform the jobs that the Commissioner lists.
any step in the sequence a claimant can be found disabled or
not disabled, the sequential evaluation ceases and further
inquiry ends. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4).
Despite the shifting of burdens at step five, the overall
burden rests on the claimant to prove that he is unable to
engage in any substantial gainful activity that exists in the
national economy. Doughty, 245 F.3d at 1278 n.2;
Boyd v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 1207, 1209
(11th Cir. 1983), superseded by statute on
other grounds by 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5), as
recognized in Elam v. R.R. Ret. Bd., 921 F.2d 1210, 1214
(11th Cir. 1991).
SCOPE OF JUDICIAL REVIEW
limited scope of judicial review applies to a denial of
Social Security benefits by the Commissioner. Judicial review
of the administrative decision addresses three questions: (1)
whether the proper legal standards were applied; (2) whether
there was substantial evidence to support the findings of
fact; and (3) whether the findings of fact resolved the
crucial issues. Washington v. Astrue, 558 F.Supp.2d
1287, 1296 (N.D.Ga. 2008); Fields v. Harris, 498
F.Supp. 478, 488 (N.D.Ga. 1980). This Court may not decide
the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner. Dyer v.
Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir.
2005). If substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's factual findings and the Commissioner
applies the proper legal standards, the Commissioner's
findings are conclusive. Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d
1436, 1439-40 (11th Cir. 1997); Barnes v.
Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1356, 1358 (11th Cir.
1991); Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529
(11th Cir. 1990); Walker v. Bowen, 826
F.2d 996, 999 (11th Cir. 1987) (per curiam);
Hillsman v. Bowen, 804 F.2d 1179, 1180
(11th Cir. 1986) (per curiam); Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir.
evidence” means “more than a scintilla, but less
than a preponderance.” Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d
at 1239. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, and it must
be enough to justify a refusal to direct a verdict were the
case before a jury. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971); Hillsman, 804 F.2d at 1180;
Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239. “In determining
whether substantial evidence exists, [the Court] must view
the record as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable
as well as unfavorable to the [Commissioner's]
decision.” Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131
(11th Cir. 1986) (per curiam). Even where there is
substantial evidence to the contrary of the ALJ's
findings, the ALJ decision will not be overturned where
“there is substantially supportive evidence” of
the ALJ's decision. Barron v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d
227, 230 (11th Cir. 1991). In contrast, review of
the ALJ's application of legal principles is plenary.
Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1558 (11th
Cir. 1995); Walker, 826 F.2d at 999.
Commissioner made the following findings of fact and
conclusions of law:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since July 20, 2012, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
borderline intellectual functioning, cerebral palsy,
seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder
[(“PTSD”)], schizoaffective disorder, ...