United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
ORDER AND OPINION ON AN APPEAL FROM A SOCIAL SECURITY
DISABILITY ACTION 
T. WALKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
14, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for
Supplemental security income under the Social Security Act,
alleging he became disabled on December 1, 2005. (Tr. 15).
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“the Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's
Plaintiff's application was denied initially on August
27, 2014, and on reconsideration on February 4, 2015,
Plaintiff appealed the denial to an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), who denied Plaintiff's claims on
April 4, 2017, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 12,
15-26, 88, 102). Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to
the Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for
review on January 24, 2018. (Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff then
appealed the decision to this Court. (Doc. 3). This case is
now before the undersigned upon the administrative record and
the parties' pleadings and briefs, and is ripe for review
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
reasons set forth below, it is ORDERED that
the decision of the Commissioner be
STANDARD FOR DETERMINING DISABILITY
individual is considered to be disabled for purposes of
disability benefits if he or she is “unable 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. § 1382c(a)(3)(A); see
also 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The impairment or
impairments must result from anatomical, psychological, or
physiological abnormalities which are demonstrable by
medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic
techniques and must be of such severity that the claimant is
not only unable to do his or her previous work but cannot,
considering age, education, and work experience, engage in
any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B)-(G);
see also 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)-(3).
burden of proof in a social security disability case is
divided between the claimant and the Commissioner. The
claimant bears the initial burden of establishing the
existence of a “disability” by demonstrating that
he or she is unable to perform his or her former type of
work. Once the claimant has met this burden, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner to show that, considering
claimant's age, education, work experience, and
impairment, there are some other types of jobs that exist in
the national economy that the claimant can perform. The
overall burden, however, rests upon the claimant to prove
that he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful
activity that exists in the national economy. Doughty v.
Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 n.2 (11th Cir. 2001).
summarized below, a five-step sequential analysis must be
used when evaluating a disability claim.
(1) The Commissioner must determine whether the applicant is
currently working; if so, the claim is denied.
(2) The Commissioner must determine whether the claimed
impairment is severe; that is, whether the impairment or
combination of impairments significantly limits the
individual's physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities; if not, the claim is denied.
(3) The Commissioner must determine whether the impairment
equals or exceeds in severity certain impairments described
in the impairment listings in the regulations; if it does,
the claimant is automatically entitled to disability
(4) The Commissioner must determine whether the applicant has
sufficient residual functional capacity to perform past work;
if so, the claim is denied.
(5) The Commissioner must determine, on the basis of
claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, whether the applicant can perform any
other gainful and substantial work within the economy; if so,
the claim is denied.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920-416.976.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW OF THE
made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
(1) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 14, 2014, the application date (20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.971, et seq.).
(2) The claimant has the following severe impairments:
cannabis use disorder; schizoaffective disorder, depressive
type; and anxiety (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(c).
(3) The claimant does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P,
app. 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925, and
(4) The claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following non-exertional limitations: The claimant
is able to understand, remember and carry out simple
instructions. He is able to make simple work-related
decisions. He is able to maintain concentration for periods
of two hours at a time in an eight-hour workday. He is able
to ask simple questions and able to work in a nonpublic area.
His interaction with the general public, coworkers and
supervisors should be brief, superficial and occasional, but
no more than one third of the workday. He would work better
with things rather than people and no teamwork. Any
interpersonal interaction should be incidental to the work
being performed. He is able to sustain routine work without
special supervision. He is able to adapt to occasional
changes in the work processes and environment, and he is able
to be aware of normal hazards and take appropriate
precaution. He is able to travel to unfamiliar places. Due to
his medical conditions and symptoms, he would be off task at
unpredictable times up to 4% of the work period and he would
be absent one day every forty-five days.
(5) The claimant has no past relevant work (20 C.F.R.
(6) The claimant was born on November 23, 1971, and forty-two
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
eighteen to forty-nine, on the date the application was filed
(20 C.F.R. § 416.963).
(7) The claimant has at least a high school education, and is
able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. § 416.964).
(8) Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 C.F.R. §
(9) Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.969
(10) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since May 14, 2014, the date the
application was filed (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(g).
CLAIMS OF ERROR
alleges the decision of the Commissioner is in error for the
reasons set forth below.
A. The ALJ erred when she considered the evidence from View
Point Health as an acceptable medical source and relied upon
it to reject the opinion of Dr. Snook, an examining
B. The ALJ erred when she rejected Plaintiff's complaints
of symptoms based on his demeanor during the hearing because
she failed to consider the times during the hearing that he
exhibited symptoms consistent with his complaints.
C. The ALJ erred when she relied upon Plaintiff's daily
activities to reject Dr. Snook's opinion because
Plaintiff's demeanor was not inconsistent with Dr.
D. The ALJ erred when she failed to consider whether
Plaintiff met listing 12.03 (applicable to schizophrenia
spectrum and other psychotic disorders).
SCOPE OF ...