United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
ANNA M. GASSLER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Christopher L. Ray, United States Magistrate Judge
Anna M. Gassler seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's denial of her application for Disability
Insurance (DIB) benefits.
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).
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 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
Stone v. Comm'r. of Soc. Sec. Admin., 596 F.
App'x, 878, 879 (11th Cir. 2015) (footnote added).
who was 58 years old when her disability application was
denied, alleges disability beginning August 1, 2012. Tr. 10.
She has a high school education and past work experience as a
retail store manager, sandwich maker, and fast food
worker/cashier. Tr. 15, 31. After a hearing, the ALJ issued
an unfavorable decision. Tr. 10-16. He found that
Gassler's arthritis and obesity constituted severe
impairments but did not meet or medically equal a Listing.
Tr. 12-13. Based on the evidence of record, the ALJ found
that she retained the RFC for the full range of work at all
exertional levels except that Gassler
can perform work with a Specific Vocation
Preparation equivalent to her past relevant work, or
1-2. Additionally, [she] can frequently but not constantly
stoop, crouch, kneel, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs;
occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and should
avoid more than occasional exposure to hazardous machinery
and unprotected heights.
Tr. 13 (footnote added).
asked the Vocational Expert (VE) whether an individual with
plaintiff's RFC could perform any of her past relevant
work. Tr. 31. The VE testified that she could. Id.
Plaintiff, the ALJ thus determined, was capable of performing
her past relevant work as a fast food worker/cashier, light
work with an SVP of 2. Tr. 15. Gassler disagrees, arguing
that the ALJ erred by failing to address her rebuttal
evidence regarding her ability to work as a fast food worker
as well as her objections that the ...