United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Christopher L. Ray, United States Magistrate Judge.
Ashley Marie Miller seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Administration's denial of her application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance
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 33 years old when her SSI and DIB claims were denied,
alleges disability beginning on January 18, 2012. Tr. 10. She
has a high school education, is able to communicate in
English, and past job experience as a receptionist. Tr. 23
& 45. After a hearing, tr. 40-77, and on remand from the
Appeals Council for reconsideration of plaintiff's mental
impairments and medical source opinions, see tr.
204-08, 292-94, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision, tr.
10-24. He found that Miller's diabetes mellitus, type I
with neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression,
generalized anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, and sleep apnea constituted severe impairments but
did not meet or medically equal a Listing. Tr. 13-15. The ALJ
thus found that Miller retained the RFC for light work except
. . . she can push/pull up to 10 pounds occasionally; she can
stand//walk up to 4 out of 8 hours, and sit up to 8 out of 8
hours with normal breaks; she needs sit/stand option every
hour; she can do no climbing ladders or scaffolds; she can
frequently do stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling; she
can frequently do handling, fingering, and feeling; she can
occasionally do foot controls; and she should avoid
unprotected heights or other hazards. The claimant is limited
to perform simple, routine work in work involving simple,
work-related decisions with few, if any, workplace changes;
and she can have occasional interaction with coworkers and
supervisors, but no public interaction.
Tr. 15. Plaintiff, he determined, could not perform her past
relevant work but could perform the requirements of
representative work such as assembler, final parts assembler,
and surveillance monitor, all unskilled, sedentary work with
an SVP of 2. Tr. 23-25. Miller disagrees, arguing that
the ALJ erred in his evaluation of the medical opinion
evidence and third-party witness testimony. Docs. 15 &
is entitled to formulate an RFC and resolve any ambiguity or
inconsistency in the medical evidence, 20 C.F.R. §§
416.927(d)(2), 946(c), based on the entire record, 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520a (evaluation of mental impairments),
416.945(a)(3) (the RFC is based on all the relevant evidence,
including diagnoses, treatment, observations, and opinions of
medical sources, as well as witness testimony). The RFC
represents the most a claimant can do despite her
limitations, SSR 96-8p, and it is the ALJ's
responsibility (and not any doctor's) to assess the RFC
based on the record as a whole. Robinson v. Astrue,
365 Fed.Appx. 993, 999 (11th Cir. 2010) (“the task of
determining a claimant's [RFC] and ability to work is
within the province of the ALJ, not of doctor's.”);
see 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(3) (“We will
assess your residual functional capacity based on all of the
relevant medical and other evidence.”); 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1546(c) (the ALJ has the responsibility for
determining a claimant's RFC). And the ALJ can distill a
claimant's RFC from an amalgamation of the record as a
whole, without requiring a specific medical opinion to
articulate a specific functional limitation. See Chapo v.
Astrue, 682 ...