United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHRISTOPHER L. RAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ingrid Jackson seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's denial of her application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) 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 30 years old when her claim was denied, alleges
disability beginning on August 30, 2011. Tr. 25. She has at
least a high school education, and past job experience as a
cleaner and housekeeper. Tr. 32. After a hearing, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision. Tr. 25-33. He found
Jackson's lupus, IBS, colitis, depression, anxiety, and
marijuana abuse severe but found that they did not meet or
medically equal a Listing. Tr. 28-29. The ALJ thus found that
Jackson retained the RFC for a full range of work, except she
could have no jobs causing direct exposure to the sun, could
have non-intensive interaction with the public, coworkers,
and supervisors in non-confrontational situations, was best
suited to a low-stress work environment without the demands
of hourly production quotas, could perform short-cycle
repetitive work, and should not be isolated from bathroom
facilities. Tr. 29. Plaintiff, he determined, could perform
her past relevant work as a housekeeper. Tr. 26, 32.
disagrees,  arguing that the ALJ erred in failing to
consider the treating physician's statements regarding
the limiting effects of Jackson's discoid lupus
erythematosus (“DLE”) during flare ups, or the
side effects of Jackson's medications. Doc. 12.
Specifically, Jackson argues that the ALJ should have
considered her treating dermatologist's opinion on the
periodic nature of plaintiff's lupus flare-ups. Doc. 17
at 3. Plaintiff argues that, had the ALJ properly
incorporated the restrictions imposed by the flare-ups and
her medication side effects into the RFC, she would have been
found disabled. Docs. 12 & 17. Plaintiff notes that the
medications she takes to control her lupus have significant
side effects and that these side effects prohibit her from
maintaining employment. Doc. 12 at 6.
Limiting Effects of Jackson's Lupus
claims that the ALJ erred in failing to consider the limiting
effects imposed by her lupus. Id. at 2-3. The ALJ
assigned claimant's treating dermatologist's-Sidney
Smith-opinions little weight. Id. at 4. She alleges
that the ALJ erred by considering only her symptoms and
ability to work during quiescent periods rather than when a
lupus flare-up occurs and that the ALJ discounted her
treating physician's reports of mental deficits.
Id. 4-6. Likewise, she argues that the ALJ
improperly credited her testimony as to her capabilities ...