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Holton v. Berryhill

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

January 15, 2019

COREY LEE HOLTON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         Plaintiff Corey Lee Holton seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

         I. GOVERNING STANDARDS

         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).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Holton was 23 years old at the time of his application, has no past relevant work, and has only a limited education (10th grade). Tr. 28, 42. After a hearing, ALJ Richard Furcolo issued an unfavorable decision. Tr. 1-7, 28-44. He found that Holton's borderline intellectual functioning constituted a severe impairment but did not meet or medically equal a Listing. Tr. 30-34. Based on the evidence of record, the ALJ found that Holton retained the RFC for a full range of work at all exertional levels, except that

he is limited to performing simple, routine, repetitive tasks. He could make only simple work-related decisions, and he could have only occasional contact with the public.

Tr. 35.

         Plaintiff, he determined, had no past relevant work but could perform the requirements of work as a packager, assembler, and laundry worker, all unskilled work with an SVP[2] of 2. Tr. 73-74. Hence, Holton was not disabled. Tr. 42-43. Holton disagrees, arguing that the ALJ erred in determining he did not meet Listing 12.05B. Doc. 12.

         III. ...


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