Collins v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING CASE that the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED, costs are taxed against claimant as more fully set out in order. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 3/20/2013. (AHI)
2013 Mar-20 PM 12:53
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner, Social Security
Civil Action No. CV-12-S-1830-E
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Claimant, Barbara Collins, commenced this action on May 10, 2012, pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final adverse decision of the
Commissioner, affirming the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), and
thereby denying her claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits.
For the reasons stated herein, the court finds that the Commissioner’s ruling is due
to be affirmed.
The court’s role in reviewing claims brought under the Social Security Act is
a narrow one. The scope of review is limited to determining whether there is
substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the findings of the
Commissioner, and whether correct legal standards were applied. See Lamb v.
Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988); Tieniber v. Heckler, 720 F.2d 1251, 1253
(11th Cir. 1983).
Claimant contends that the Commissioner’s decision is neither supported by
substantial evidence nor in accordance with applicable legal standards. Specifically,
claimant asserts that the ALJ improperly considered her past relevant work and
improperly evaluated her subjective complaints of pain. Upon review of the record,
the court concludes that these contentions are without merit.
Claimant first asserts that the ALJ erred in finding that claimant was capable
of returning to her past relevant work as a cook, because she never performed that
work at the level of substantial gainful activity. Even if the ALJ did err in
considering claimant’s work as a cook to be past relevant work, the error was
harmless, because the ALJ also found that claimant could perform other jobs existing
in significant numbers in the national economy.1
Claimant’s second argument is that the ALJ erred in evaluating claimant’s
subjective complaints of pain. To demonstrate that pain or another subjective
symptom renders her disabled, claimant must “produce ‘evidence of an underlying
medical condition and (1) objective medical evidence that confirms the severity of the
alleged pain arising from that condition or (2) that the objectively determined medical
condition is of such severity that it can be reasonably expected to give rise to the
See Tr. 20 (“Although the claimant is capable of performing past relevant work, there are
other jobs existing in the national economy that she is also able to perform.”).
alleged pain.’” Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F. 2d 580, 584 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting
Landry v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1551, 1553 (11th Cir. 1986)). If an ALJ discredits
subjective testimony on pain, “he must articulate explicit and adequate reasons.”
Hale v. Bowen, 831 F.2d 1007, 1011 (11th Cir. 1987) (citing Jones v. Bowen, 810
F.2d 1001, 1004 (11th Cir. 1986); MacGregor v. Bowen, 786 F.2d 1050, 1054 (11th
Cir. 1986)). Furthermore, “[a]fter considering a claimant’s complaints of pain, the
ALJ may reject them as not creditable, and that determination will be reviewed for
substantial evidence.” Marbury v. Sullivan, 957 F.2d 837, 839 (11th Cir. 1992) (citing
Wilson v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 513, 517 (11th Cir. 1984)) (alteration supplied).
Claimant asserts that the ALJ failed to properly apply this standard. It is true
that the ALJ did not directly cite the three-part standard or cite any case law
expressing that standard. Even so, the ALJ did make the following finding, which is
consistent with the Eleventh Circuit pain standard:
After careful consideration of the evidence, the undersigned finds
that the claimant’s medically determinable impairments could
reasonably be expected to cause some of the alleged symptoms;
however, the claimant’s statements concerning the intensity, persistence
and limiting effects of these symptoms are not credible to the extent they
are inconsistent with the above residual functional capacity assessment.2
More specifically, the ALJ reasoned that claimant’s allegations of disabling knee and
hip pain were inconsistent with her reported daily activities and the objective findings
of her treating physician, and there was no medical evidence to support claimant’s
allegations of headaches.3 These conclusions were supported by substantial evidence.
Consistent with the foregoing, the court concludes the ALJ’s decision was
based upon substantial evidence and in accordance with applicable legal standards.
Accordingly, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. Costs are taxed
against claimant. The Clerk is directed to close this file.
DONE this 20th day of March, 2013.
United States District Judge
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