Golemon v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER entered that the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff benefits be reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), for further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision. Signed by Magistrate Judge William E. Cassady on 9/5/2014. (eec)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial
review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for
supplemental security income benefits. The parties have consented to the exercise of
jurisdiction by the Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), for all proceedings
in this Court. (Docs. 14 & 16 (“In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 636(c) and
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties in this case consent to have a United States Magistrate Judge
conduct any and all proceedings in this case, . . . order the entry of a final judgment, and
conduct all post-judgment proceedings.”).) Upon consideration of the administrative
record, plaintiff’s brief, the Commissioner’s brief, and the arguments of counsel for the
parties at the August 27, 2014 hearing before the Court, it is determined that the
Commissioner’s decision denying benefits should be reversed and remanded for further
proceedings not inconsistent with this decision.
Any appeal taken from this memorandum opinion and order and judgment shall
be made to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. (See Docs. 14 & 16 (“An appeal from a
judgment entered by a Magistrate Judge shall be taken directly to the United States Court of
Plaintiff alleges disability due to psoriasis, myalgias with degenerative disc
disease, cervical radiculopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, anxiety,
depression, vertigo, hypertension, asthma, obesity, and bilateral degenerative joint
disease of the knees. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the following relevant
The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
January 4, 2011, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
The claimant has the following severe impairments: myalgias
with degenerative disc disease, cervical radiculopathy, carpal tunnel
syndrome, headaches, anxiety, depression, vertigo, hypertension,
asthma, obesity, and bilateral degenerative joint disease of the knees (20
Following the alleged onset date of June 10, 2007, through calendar year
2008, the record documented periodic visits to the Mostellar Medical
Center, for a variety of complaints including indigestion, back and knee
pain, burning on urination, rectal bleeding, psoriasis, and cold symptoms.
. . . It is noted that when seen for follow up of her psoriasis, the claimant’s
extremities were described as normal (Exhibits 1F and 7F).
The medical records through 2008 noted treatment of the claimant for
various complaints but did not describe ongoing treatment for a specific
illness or impairment over 12 consecutive months. The record, rather,
described sporadic treatment for numerous complaints and specific
testing was not supportive of a disabling impairment. . . . The claimant
was  seen, at different times, for . . . psoriasis . . . .
The claimant applied for benefits in January 2011. The medical evidence
for the calendar year 2010, a full year prior to her filing for benefits,
includes continuing reports from the Mostellar Medical Center. The notes
from early 2010 show periodic treatment for various complaints including
Appeals for this judicial circuit in the same manner as an appeal from any other judgment of
this district court.”))
. . . psoriasis of the elbows and knees. . . . In May 2010, she reported right
pelvic pain and in September 2010, she reported having back and knee
pain. At that time, psoriasis was not indicated as a diagnosis but a hiatal
hernia was indicated.
For 2011, the record shows that the claimant was seen at the Mostellar
Medical Center for right knee pain, following a fall, and for psoriasis of
her left hand and foot, and right knee. . . . In September and in October
2011, the claimant was treated for cold symptoms, asthma, and psoriasis.
In February 2012, the Mostellar Medical Center noted that the claimant
had multiple complaints and recommended that she be seen by Dr.
Lawrence for her psoriasis.
The above-described combined severe impairments are supported by the
claimant’s medical history, and those impairments in combination restrict
the claimant’s ability to perform a full range of work-related activities and
they are severe within the meaning of the Social Security Act and
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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
The record does not document the specific requirements described in any
section of Appendix 1. There is no history of signs, symptoms and
findings so similar to any impairment listed in Appendix 1 that establishes
a medically equivalent degree of severity. Counsel argued that the
claimant’s psoriasis met the requirements of Appendix 1. Section 8.05 of
Appendix 1 refers to psoriasis, and requires that there be extensive skin
lesions that persist for three month[s] despite continuing treatment as
prescribed. In this case, the record notes treatment for flares of psoriasis
for several years. Those reports, which note periodic flare up (sic) of
psoriasis, do not describe extensive skin lesions over any three month
period of time.
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the
claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she must alternate positions
between sitting and standing every 30 minutes but she would not have
to leave the work station. She cannot perform overhead reaching or
operate foot controls. She cannot climb ladders, scaffolds, or ropes. She
cannot kneel, crawl, or work at unprotected heights or around
dangerous equipment. She cannot work in areas of temperature
extremes, wetness, or be exposed to concentrated environmental
pollutants. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, bend, stoop,
and crouch. She can frequently reach, other than overhead, and
frequently handle and finger. . . .
In making this finding, I have considered all symptoms and the extent to
which these symptoms can reasonably be accepted as consistent with the
objective medical evidence and other evidence, based on the requirements
of 20 CFR 416.929 and SSRs 96-4p and 96-7p. I have also considered
opinion evidence in accordance with the requirements of 20 CFR 416.927
and SSRs 96-2p, 96-5p, 96-6p and 06-3p.
In considering the claimant’s symptoms, I must follow a two-step process
in which it must first be determined whether there is an underlying
medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s)—i.e., an
impairment(s) that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques—that could reasonably be expected to
produce the claimant’s pain or other symptoms.
Second, once an underlying physical or mental impairment(s) that could
reasonably be expected to produce the claimant’s pain or other symptoms
has been shown, I must evaluate the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of the claimant’s symptoms to determine the extent to which they
limit the claimant’s functioning. For this purpose, whenever statements
about the intensity, persistence, or functionally limiting effects of pain or
other symptoms are not substantiated by objective medical evidence, I
must make a finding on the credibility of the statements based on a
consideration of the entire case record.
The claimant testified that her vertigo made her have to move slowly or
she would fall out. Her musculoskeletal problems caused shooting pain
and made her feel numb and heavy, and want to sleep. Her psoriasis
made her fingers break open and made her feel she had carpet burns over
her body. . . . The claimant testified that she could walk for only 150 feet,
stand for only three minutes, and sit for only five minutes. She alleged
that her psoriasis and arthritis caused her to feel stiff and to hurt, and
caused her to drop items.
After careful consideration of the evidence, I find that the claimant’s
medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to
cause 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.
In terms of the claimant’s alleged disabling impairments, the record shows
that claimant has a wide range of daily activities, including caring for her
disabled husband and a child with cerebral palsy. She described
performing a range of household activities, including washing dishes, and
doing other chores with help from her children and others. She went
shopping, and did the banking and bill paying for the family. She took
care of her Chihuahua. She also would attend school events with her
daughter. She was taking on-line college classes on her computer. The
range of activities described by the claimant is consistent with the
established residual functional capacity. The claimant testified that her
pain medications interfered with her vertigo. None of the medical reports
described her reporting any adverse medication effects to her treating
sources. The claimant described an inability to sit, stand, or walk for more
than minimal amounts of time because of her impairments. Her history of
treatment, the test reports of record, and her daily activities do not
support such limitations. The medical evidence, which documents
treatment of the claimant over several years, does not establish a specific
history with respect to the location, duration, frequency, or intensity of
symptoms. The record documents a history of sporadic treatment for
various complaints but does not establish a consistent history of
symptoms. The claimant indicated that minimal sitting, standing, or
walking exacerbated her symptoms. The medical evidence does not
support her allegations. The claimant has been prescribed appropriate
medications for her illnesses, and the record does not describe allegations
of adverse medication effects. The claimant has had a successful
esophageal dilation procedure, but otherwise she has been treated
conservatively for all of her illnesses and injuries. She testified that a
referral to a dermatologist has been suggested, but such referral had not
been made as of the date of the hearing. The claimant’s allegations of
disability are not supported by her history of treatment, by any test
findings o[f] record, by the opinion of any treating source, or by her daily
activities. Her allegations of disability are not credible.
The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20
The claimant was born on October 21, 1968 and was 42 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the
application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination
of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a
framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled,”
whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
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 CFR
416.969 and 416.969(a)).
The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, since January 4, 2011, the date the application was
filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
(Tr. 16, 16-17, 17, 18, 18-19, 20-21, 21, 22 & 23 (internal citations omitted; emphasis in
original).) The Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ’s decision (Tr. 4-6) and thus, the
hearing decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.
A claimant is entitled to an award of supplemental security income benefits
when she is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.905(a) (2014).
In determining whether a claimant has met her burden of proving disability, the
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920.
At step one, if a claimant is performing substantial gainful activity, she is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b). At the second step, if a claimant does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that significantly limits her physical or mental ability to do
basic work activities (that is, a severe impairment), she is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(c). At step three, if a claimant proves that her impairments meet or medically
equal one of the listed impairments set forth in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404, the
claimant will be considered disabled without consideration of age, education and work
experience. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(d). At the fourth step, if the claimant is unable to prove
the existence of a listed impairment, she must prove that her physical and/or mental
impairments prevent her from performing her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(f).
And at the fifth step, the Commissioner must consider the claimant’s residual functional
capacity, age, education, and past work experience to determine whether the claimant
can perform other work besides past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(g). Plaintiff
bears the burden of proof through the first four steps of the sequential evaluation
process, see Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5, 107 S.Ct. 2287, 2294 n.5, 96 L.Ed.2d
119 (1987), and while the burden of proof shifts to the Commissioner at the fifth step of
the process to establish other jobs existing in substantial numbers in the national
economy that the claimant can perform, the ultimate burden of proving disability never
shifts from the plaintiff, see, e.g., Green v. Social Security Administration, 223 Fed.Appx.
915, 923 (11th Cir. May 2, 2007) (“If a claimant proves that she is unable to perform her
past relevant work, in the fifth step, ‘the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
determine if there is other work available in significant numbers in the national
economy that the claimant is able to perform.’ . . . Should the Commissioner
‘demonstrate that there are jobs the claimant can perform, the claimant must prove she
is unable to perform those jobs in order to be found disabled.’”).
The task for the Magistrate Judge is to determine whether the Commissioner’s
decision to deny claimant benefits, on the basis that she is capable of performing those
See, e.g., McManus v. Barnhart, 2004 WL 3316303, *2 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 14, 2004)
(“The burden  temporarily shifts to the Commissioner to demonstrate that ‘other work’ which
the claimant can perform currently exists in the national economy.”).
“Unpublished opinions are not considered binding precedent, but they may be
cited as persuasive authority.” 11th Cir.R. 36-2.
light jobs identified by the vocational expert, is supported by substantial evidence.
Substantial evidence is defined as more than a scintilla and means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971). “In determining
whether substantial evidence exists, we must view the record as a whole, taking into
account evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the Commissioner’s] decision.”
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). Courts are precluded, however,
from “deciding the facts anew or re-weighing the evidence.” Davison v. Astrue, 370 Fed.
Appx. 995, 996 (11th Cir. Apr. 1, 2010) (per curiam) (citing Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005)). And, “[e]ven if the evidence preponderates against the
Commissioner’s findings, [a court] must affirm if the decision reached is supported by
substantial evidence.” Id., citing Crawford v. Commissioner of Social Security, 363 F.3d
1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004).
The plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred in making no finding regarding
whether her psoriasis is a severe impairment and also erred in failing to find that her
psoriasis meets Listing 8.05. (See Doc. 11.) With respect to plaintiff’s first assignment of
error, the defendant argues in response that the ALJ implicitly found that plaintiff’s
psoriasis was not a severe impairment and that even if she should have found psoriasis
to be a severe impairment, such failure was harmless error because the finding by the
ALJ that she had other severe impairments is all step two requires, and she expressly
considered plaintiff’s psoriasis in assessing residual functional capacity. (Doc. 12, at 6.)
Because the undersigned finds that the ALJ committed reversible error respecting her
This Court’s review of the Commissioner’s application of legal principles,
however, is plenary. Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999 (11th Cir. 1987).
analysis of plaintiff’s psoriasis, and the impact that this impairment has upon the
Golemon’s ability to perform basic work activities, the Court does not reach the issue of
whether plaintiff’s psoriasis meets Listing 8.05.
The Commissioner’s severity regulation requires the claimant to make a
threshold showing that she has an impairment which significantly limits her physical or
mental ability to perform basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.921(a); Bowen v. Yuckert,
482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5, 107 S.Ct. 2287, 2294 n.5, 96 L.Ed.2d 119 (1987); see also Jones v. Apfel,
190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999) (“At the second step, [the claimant] must prove that
she has a severe impairment or combination of impairments.”), cert. denied, 529 U.S.
1089, 120 S.Ct. 1723, 146 L.Ed.2d 644 (2000). In other words, “an impairment is ‘severe’
if it ‘significantly limits claimant’s physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities.’” Salazar v. Commissioner of Social Security, 372 Fed.Appx. 64, 66 (11th Cir. Apr.
6, 2010), quoting Crayton v. Callahan, 120 F.3d 1217, 1219 (11th Cir. 1997). Basic work
activities include functions such as walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling,
reaching, carrying, and handling. 20 C.F.R. § 416.921(b). An impairment can be
considered not severe “only if it is a slight abnormality which has such a minimal effect
on the individual that it would not be expected to interfere with the individual’s ability
to work, irrespective of age, education, or work experience.” Brady v. Heckler, 724 F.2d
914, 920 (11th Cir. 1984); see Yuckert, supra, 482 U.S. at 153, 107 S.Ct. at 2297 (“The
severity regulation increases the efficiency and reliability of the evaluation process by
identifying at an early stage those claimants whose medical impairments are so slight
that it is unlikely they would be found disabled even if their age, education and
experience were taken into account.”).
Inherent in a finding of a medically not severe impairment or combination
of impairments is the conclusion that the individual’s ability to engage in
SGA [substantial gainful activity] is not seriously affected. Before this
conclusion can be reached, however, an evaluation of the effects of the
impairment(s) on the person’s ability to do basic work activities must be
made. A determination that an impairment(s) is not severe requires a
careful evaluation of the medical findings which describe the
impairment(s) and an informed judgment about its (their) limiting effects
on the individual’s physical and mental ability(ies) to perform basic work
activities; thus, an assessment of function is inherent in the medical
evaluation process itself.
SSR 85-28. The claimant’s burden at step two of the sequential evaluation process is
mild. Daniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1031 (11th Cir. 1986) (“Step two is a threshold
inquiry. It allows only claims based on the most trivial impairments to be rejected.”). A
claimant need only show that “her impairment is not so slight and its effect is not so
minimal.” Id.; see also Salazar, supra, at 66 (“Although the claimant bears the burden of
showing severity, the burden is mild, such that a claimant need only show ‘her
impairment is not so slight and its effect is not so minimal’ as to be trivial.”).
By her own admission, the Commissioner in this cases concedes that the ALJ
implicitly found that plaintiff’s psoriasis was not a severe impairment (see Doc. 12, at 6),
presumably by virtue of the fact that “psoriasis” does not appear in the “list” of severe
impairments specifically found by the ALJ (compare id. with Tr. 16). The Commissioner
then proceeds to half-heartedly argue that the ALJ correctly determined that plaintiff’s
psoriasis was non-severe (see Doc. 12, at 5-6), only to quickly do an about-face and
argue that even if the ALJ should have found psoriasis to be a severe impairment, such
It is clear that in Yuckert, the Supreme Court did not impose a standard higher
than the de minimis standard set out in Brady. See Stratton v. Bowen, 827 F.2d 1447, 1451 n.7, 1452
n.9, 1452-1453 (11th Cir. 1987).
failure was harmless error because the finding by the ALJ that she had other severe
impairments is all step two requires (id. at 6, citing Heatly v. Commissioner of Social
Security, 382 Fed.Appx. 823, 824-825 (11th Cir. Jun. 11, 2010)). Presumably, the
Commissioner’s about-face has several sources. First, psoriasis, not surprisingly, is often
recognized as a severe impairment. See, e.g., Wines v. Astrue, 2012 WL 684847, *1 (M.D.
Ala. Mar. 2, 2012) (noting ALJ concluded that plaintiff had numerous severe
impairments, including psoriasis); Cannon v. Astrue, 2011 WL 4346566, *2 (M.D. Fla.
Sept. 16, 2011) (“At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff’s disorders of the spine, psoriasis,
affective disorder, and obesity were severe impairments[.]” (emphasis supplied)).
Second, any implicit finding of non-severity in this regard is inherently inconsistent
with the ALJ’s specific analysis of Golemon’s psoriasis at step three—the Listing of
Impairments (here, specifically Listing 8.05)—since analysis at step three assumes
severity of the relevant impairment. Compare Salazar, supra, 372 Fed.Appx. at 66 (“[T]he
ALJ must decide whether the claimant’s severe impairment meets or medically equals a
listed impairment.”) with Kuhl v. Commissioner of Social Security, 451 Fed.Appx. 802, 804
(11th Cir. Oct. 14, 2011) (“Under the five-step sequential evaluation used to determine
whether a claimant is disabled, the ALJ considers: (1) whether the claimant is engaged
in substantial gainful activity; (2) if not, whether the claimant has a severe impairment
or combination of impairments; (3) if so, whether the severe impairment meets or equals
an impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments; (4) if not, whether the claimant has
the RFC to perform her past relevant work; and (5) if not, whether, in light of the
claimant’s age, education and work experience, the claimant can perform other work
that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.” (emphasis supplied)).
Finally, since the record in this case is replete with psoriasis evidence (compare Tr. 204,
215, 219-220, 243-244, 250-251, 276-278, 374-375, 377, 384, 389 with Tr. 81, 102-103, 106,
506, 510, 513, 521 & 524), and this Court is prohibited from reweighing the evidence and
making a dispositive determination regarding the severity of plaintiff’s psoriasis, see
Tobler v. Colvin, 2014 WL 4187372, *6 (N.D. Ala. Aug. 20, 2014) (“Other than a
somatoform disorder, the ALJ did not discuss to what degree any of the claimed
impairments were to be considered severe, leading the court to believe that the ALJ
determined that none of the claimed issues imposed any impairment. This court is not
at liberty to re-weigh the evidence and determine which, if any, of the above
impairments are severe, non-severe, or not impairments. However, because there are
diagnoses and varying levels of treatment in the record for the claimed impairments,
the ALJ must assign an impairment level to them, based on the evidence in the
record.”), the Commissioner attempts to avoid a remand by making a harmless error
In Heatly, supra, a panel of the Eleventh Circuit certainly stated that “[e]ven if the
ALJ erred in not indicating whether chronic pain syndrome was a severe impairment,
the error was harmless because the ALJ concluded that Heatly had a severe
impairment and that finding is all that step two requires.” 382 Fed.Appx. at 824-825
(footnote added). And while this Court could talk at some length about whether Heatly
was correctly decided, it is clear that the case was not decided in a vacuum, the panel
finding that the ALJ considered all of the claimant’s impairments in combination given
his detailed discussion of “Heatly’s testimony and medical history, which included
Heatly’s pain complaints, his limitations due to pain, and the diagnoses he received
related to his pain.” Id. at 825 (citation omitted). In recognition that Heatly was not
“[T]he ALJ determined that the only severe impairment Heatly suffered from
was status-post cervical fusion[.]” Id. at 824.
decided in a vacuum, the Commissioner concludes her argument in the following
manner: “In this case, not only did the ALJ find Plaintiff had severe impairments, but
she expressly considered the allegedly severe impairment of psoriasis in assessing
Plaintiff’s RFC (Tr. 21).” (Doc. 12, at 6.) In this regard, however, the Commissioner is
only partly correct inasmuch as the only mentions made of psoriasis in this pivotal
portion of the ALJ’s decision consist of the acknowledgements that Golemon stated
“[h]er psoriasis made her fingers break open and made her feel she had carpet burns
over her body” and “that her psoriasis and arthritis caused her to feel stiff and to hurt,
and caused her to drop items.” (Tr. 21.) However, the ALJ failed to evaluate these
allegations, or more specific complaints made by Golemon during the hearing, “headon” in analyzing the plaintiff’s credibility. (See id.) For instance, even with respect to the
plaintiff’s complaints summarized in the decision—that her fingers break open and her
psoriasis causes her to drop items (Tr. 21)—the ALJ failed to explicitly discredit such
complaints or explain how such complaints (or the more specific complaints Golemon
made at the hearing which the ALJ chose to ignore ) are not inherently inconsistent with
the RFC determination that the claimant retains the ability to frequently reach (other
than overhead), handle, and finger. (See id.)
The ALJ’s failure to directly address these complaints perhaps stems from the
fact that the ALJ actually witnessed the “busted” skin at the joints of several of Golemon’s
fingers on her left hand. (See Tr. 524 (plaintiff’s testimony suggests that she is showing the ALJ
and her attorney her left hand with the “busted” skin at her finger joints).)
Plaintiff specifically testified that her fingers “bust open periodically just
grabbing a cup of coffee” (Tr. 513), that she cannot take a bath without feeling like alcohol is
being poured over an open wound (id.), and that she has to wear flip-flops because if she puts
socks on they stick to her skin and pull her skin off when she takes the socks off her feet (Tr.
The failure of the ALJ to specifically identify the limitations associated with
plaintiff’s psoriasis—or explain why this impairment lends itself to no limitations with
respect to plaintiff’s ability to perform basic work activities—is but a “sliver” of a much
bigger problem with the ALJ’s decision in this case and that is her failure to specifically
link her physical residual functional capacity assessment to specific evidence in the
record bearing upon Golemon’s ability to perform the physical requirements of work.
The ALJ in this case simply failed to “show [her] work[,]” that is, she failed to show
how she applied and analyzed the evidence to determine plaintiff’s physical RFC. See,
e.g., Hanna v. Astrue, 395 Fed. Appx. 634, 636 (11th Cir. Sept. 9, 2010) (per curiam) (an
ALJ’s “decision [must] provide a meaningful basis upon which we can review [a
plaintiff’s] case”); Ricks v. Astrue, 2012 WL 1020428, *9 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 27, 2012) (an ALJ
must “explain the basis for his decision”); Packer v. Commissioner, Social Security Admin.,
542 Fed. Appx. 890, 891-892 (11th Cir. Oct. 29, 2013) (per curiam) (an ALJ [must]
“provide enough reasoning for a reviewing court to conclude that the ALJ considered
the claimant’s medical condition as a whole” (emphasis added)). An ALJ’s application
and analysis of the evidence to show how she determined plaintiff’s RFC quite
naturally appears in conjunction with the fourth-step determination; however, no such
application and analysis appears in this portion of the ALJ’s decision in this case (Tr. 2022). In addition, even in that portion of the decision in which some of evidence is
mentioned (see Tr. 16-18), the ALJ certainly does not show how she applied and
analyzed such evidence to determine plaintiff’s physical RFC. Accordingly, not only
For instance, this Court is unable to tell what evidence of record led the ALJ to
conclude that plaintiff: (1) “must alternate positions between sitting and standing every 30
minutes[;]” (2) “cannot perform overhead reaching or operate foot controls[;]” or, as aforesaid,
(3) “can frequently reach, other than overhead, and frequently handle and finger.” (Tr. 20.)
was the ALJ’s failure to consider limitations associated with plaintiff’s psoriasis in the
context of her RFC determination not harmless error but, as well, the ALJ’s wholesale
failure to “link” her RFC determination (in particular, her physical RFC determination)
to evidence in the record bearing upon Golemon’s ability to perform the physical
requirements of work was clear reversible error.
Based upon the foregoing, this cause is due to be reversed and remanded for
further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision.
It is ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
plaintiff benefits be reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), see Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89, 111 S.Ct. 2157, 115 L.Ed.2d 78 (1991), for
further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision. The remand pursuant to
sentence four of § 405(g) makes the plaintiff a prevailing party for purposes of the Equal
Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412, Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 113 S.Ct. 2625, 125
L.Ed.2d 239 (1993), and terminates this Court’s jurisdiction over this matter.
DONE and ORDERED this the 5th day of September, 2014.
s/WILLIAM E. CASSADY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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