United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
contests the decision of Administrative Law Judge Donald B.
Fishman (“the ALJ” or “ALJ Fishman”)
denying her claim for a Period of Disability and Disability
Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff urges the Court to reverse and
remand the ALJ's decision for additional medical and
vocational analyses. Doc. 12 at 8. Defendant asserts the
Commissioner's decision should be affirmed. Doc. 13 at
12. For the reasons which follow, I
RECOMMEND the Court AFFIRM
the Commissioner's decision. I also
RECOMMEND the Court DIRECT
the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and
enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal.
filed an application for a Period of Disability and
Disability Insurance Benefits on June 5, 2014, alleging that
she became disabled on October 23, 2013, due to numbness,
pain, and an inability to grab or lift. Doc. 10-2 at 16; Doc.
10-3 at 2. After her claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff filed a timely request for a
hearing. On December 2, 2016, ALJ Fishman conducted a video
hearing at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel,
appeared and testified from Waycross, Georgia. James
Waddington, a vocational expert, also appeared at the
hearing. Doc. 10-2 at 16. ALJ Fishman found that Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act (“the Act”) since October 23, 2013.
Id. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review of the ALJ's decision, and the
decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the
Commissioner for judicial review. Id. at 2.
born on December 13, 1965, was 51 years old when ALJ Fishman
issued his final decision and 47 years old on her alleged
disability onset date. Id. at 20, 21. She has a
limited education. Id. at 20, 33 Plaintiff's
past relevant work experience includes work as a convenience
store clerk and material handler. Id. at 20.
The ALJ's Findings
II of the Act defines “disability” as the
“inability 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. §
423(d)(1)(A). The Act qualifies the definition of disability
An individual shall be determined to be under a disability
only if [her] physical or mental impairment or impairments
are of such severity that [s]he is not only unable to do
[her] previous work but cannot, considering [her] age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). Pursuant to the Act, the
Commissioner has established a five-step process to determine
whether a person meets the definition of disability. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987).
first step determines if the claimant is engaged in
“substantial gainful activity.” Id. If
the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, then
benefits are immediately denied.
If the claimant is not engaged in such activity, then the
second inquiry is whether the claimant has a medically severe
impairment or combination of impairments. Id. at
140-41. If the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments is severe, then the evaluation proceeds to step
three. The third step requires a determination of whether the
claimant's impairment meets or equals one of the
impairments listed in the Code of Federal Regulations and
acknowledged by the Commissioner as sufficiently severe to
preclude substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d), 416.920(d); 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P. App. 1;
Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1238 (11th Cir.
2004). If the impairment meets or equals one of the listed
impairments, the plaintiff is presumed disabled.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
impairment does not meet or equal one of the listed
impairments, the sequential evaluation proceeds to the fourth
step to determine if the impairment precludes the claimant
from performing past relevant work, i.e., whether the
claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform her
past relevant work. Id.; Stone v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 503 Fed.Appx. 692, 693 (11th Cir. 2013). A
claimant's residual functional capacity “is an
assessment . . . of the claimant's remaining ability to
do work despite his impairments.” Id. at
693-94 (ellipsis in original) (quoting Lewis v.
Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997)). If the
claimant is unable to perform her past relevant work, the
final step of the evaluation process determines whether she
is able to make adjustments to other work in the national
economy, considering her age, education, and work experience.
Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1239. Disability benefits will
be awarded only if the claimant is unable to perform other
work. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 142.
instant case, the ALJ followed this sequential process to
determine that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial
gainful activity since ...