Bearden v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER; The decision of the Commissioner is affirmed; costs are taxed against claimant. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 03/19/13. (SPT,
2013 Mar-19 PM 03:22
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-1995-M
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Claimant, Katrina Michelle Bearden, commenced this action on May 25, 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 supplemental security income benefits. For the
reasons stated herein, the court finds that the Commissioner’s ruling is due to be
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 evaluated her subjective complaints of pain
and failed to adequately develop the administrative record. Upon review of the
record, the court concludes that these contentions are without merit.
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 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).
The ALJ properly applied these legal principles. He found that claimant’s
medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the
symptoms she alleged, but he nonetheless concluded that claimant’s statements about
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of her symptoms were not credible to
the extent they were inconsistent with a residual functional capacity to perform light
work with no concentrated exposure to extreme cold, heat, vibration, unprotected
heights, or dangerous machinery.1 He reasoned that claimant’s testimony about her
subjective limitations was inconsistent with the medical evidence of record and
claimant’s prior reports to the Social Security Administration. Specifically, claimant
had previously reported to Social Security examiners that she could perform all
personal care tasks, prepare her own meals, and perform light housework. She also
reported to her treating physician that she had adequate pain control and was able to
perform her daily activities without difficulty.2 The court concludes that the ALJ’s
findings are supported by substantial evidence and are consistent with the remainder
of the medical evidence of record.
Claimant also asserts that the ALJ failed to adequately develop the
administrative record. A claimant bears the ultimate burden of producing evidence
to support her disability claim. See Ellison v. Barnhart, 355 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th
Cir. 2003) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.912(a), (c)). Even so, the ALJ has an obligation
to develop a full and fair record, even if the claimant is represented by counsel.
Nation v. Barnhart, 153 F. App’x 597, 598 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing Cowart v.
Schweiker, 662 F.2d 731, 735 (11th Cir. 1981)). According to claimant, the ALJ in
this case did not satisfy that obligation because he failed to “properly consider
evidence of record from [claimant’s] treating physicians which establish[es] a
disabling impairment.”3 This is nothing more than a reiteration of claimant’s
argument that the ALJ failed to properly consider her subjective complaints of pain.
As discussed above, that argument is without merit. Moreover, the court concludes
that the ALJ properly and fully developed the record by reviewing all of the medical
evidence and stating the weight he afforded to each medical opinion.
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 19th day of March, 2013.
United States District Judge
Doc. no. 8 (claimant’s brief), at 10 (alteration supplied).
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