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Campbell v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

May 15, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


         Pro se plaintiff Gerard Carmichael Campbell seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration's denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB).


         In social security cases, courts

. . . review the Commissioner's decision for substantial evidence. Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011). “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted). . . . “We may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute our judgment for that of the Commissioner.” Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178 (quotation and brackets omitted). “If the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, this Court must affirm, even if the proof preponderates against it.” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005) (quotation omitted).

Mitchell v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 771 F.3d 780, 782 (11th Cir. 2014).

         The burden of proving disability lies with the claimant. Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211 (11th Cir. 2005). The ALJ applies

. . . a five-step, “sequential” process for determining whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(1). If an ALJ finds a claimant disabled or not disabled at any given step, the ALJ does not go on to the next step. Id. § 404.1520(a)(4). At the first step, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity. Id. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). At the second step, the ALJ must determine whether the impairment or combination of impairments for which the claimant allegedly suffers is “severe.” Id. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). At the third step, the ALJ must decide whether the claimant's severe impairments meet or medically equal a listed impairment. Id. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If not, the ALJ must then determine at step four whether the claimant has the RFC[1] to perform her past relevant work. Id. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant cannot perform her past relevant work, the ALJ must determine at step five whether the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, considering the claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience. An ALJ may make this determination either by applying the Medical Vocational Guidelines or by obtaining the testimony of a [Vocational Expert (VE)].

Stone v. Comm'r. of Soc. Sec. Admin., 596 F. App'x, 878, 879 (11th Cir. 2015) (footnote added).


         Campbell complains, again, that he is better able to argue his claims in person than on paper. Doc. 19 at 1 (“I am tired of writing letters I have explained to you I am a verbal person.”). But he has adequately pointed to the error he contends the ALJ made in evaluating the record and his physical impairments (i.e., that his status post-prostate removal, and resultant frequent urination, comprises a medically severe (and, further, disabling) impairment). Id. at 2. The Court needs no hearing or oral argument to review the Commissioner's decision to see if it is indeed supported by substantial evidence.

         Campbell also disputes the Court's repeated denial of his request that counsel be appointed to represent him. He notes that he “is willing to pay for some representation (within reason)[2] knowing that [he is] at a 150% disadvantage” proceeding pro se. Doc. 19 at 1 (footnote added). But, as he has been informed, he does not have a constitutional right to counsel in this civil case seeking administrative review. The Court appoints counsel only in exceptional circumstances, where the “facts and legal issues are so novel or complex as to require assistance of a trained practitioner.” Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 193 (11th Cir. 1993). This is not such a case. See, e.g., Bostic v. Astrue, 2012 WL 3113942 at *2 (S.D. Ga. July 31, 2012); Ledford v. Astrue, 2009 WL 321632 at *1 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 9, 2009).

         Finally, Campbell freshly demands “$100, 000 in damages [and] $50, 000 punitive of the 100, 000.” Doc. 19 at 3. Campbell misperceives the nature of this action. He has invoked this Court's jurisdiction only to review the denial of benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)-(h) (limiting the federal district courts' judicial review of final decisions of the Commissioner); Shalala v. Illinois Council on Long Term Care, Inc., 529 U.S. 1, 8-10 (2000). Money damages are not on the table.

         In sum, plaintiff's requests for a hearing, for appointment of counsel, and for monetary damages (doc. 19) should be DENIED.

         II. ...

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