Johns v. Commissioner of Social Security
OPINION AND ORDER affirming the decision of the Commissioner. The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment consistent with this opinion, terminate all deadlines, and close the case. Signed by Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier on 8/1/2022. (brh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No.: 6:21-cv-204-DNF
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Andreas Johns seeks judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his claim for
a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed the
Transcript of the proceedings (hereinafter referred to as “Tr.” followed by the
appropriate page number), and the parties filed a joint legal memorandum setting
forth their respective positions. For the reasons set out herein, the decision of the
Commissioner is AFFIRMED pursuant to § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
Social Security Act Eligibility, Standard of Review, Procedural
History, and the ALJ’s Decision
Social Security Eligibility
The law defines disability as the inability to do 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 twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). The impairment must be
severe, making the claimant unable to do his previous work, or any other substantial
gainful activity which exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505–404.1511, 416.905–416.911.
Standard of Review
The Commissioner’s findings of fact are conclusive if supported by
substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is more than a
scintilla and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Even if the evidence preponderated against the
Commissioner’s findings, we must affirm if the decision reached is supported by
substantial evidence.” Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th
Cir. 2004). In conducting this review, this Court may not reweigh the evidence or
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ, but must consider the evidence as a whole,
taking into account evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the decision.
Winschel v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (citation
omitted); Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995); Martin v. Sullivan,
894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). Unlike findings of fact, the Commissioner’s
conclusions of law are not presumed valid and are reviewed under a de novo
standard. Keeton v. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 21 F.3d 1064, 1066 (11th Cir.
1994); Maldonado v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 20-14331, 2021 WL 2838362, at *2
(11th Cir. July 8, 2021); Martin, 894 F.2d at 1529. “The [Commissioner’s] failure
to apply the correct law or to provide the reviewing court with sufficient reasoning
for determining that the proper legal analysis has been conducted mandates
reversal.” Keeton, 21 F.3d at 1066.
The ALJ must follow five steps in evaluating a claim of disability. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. At the first step, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), (b); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(i), (b). At step two, the ALJ must
determine whether the impairment or combination of impairments from which the
claimant allegedly suffers is “severe.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), (c); 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(ii), (c). At step three, the ALJ must decide whether the claimant’s
severe impairments meet or medically equal a listed impairment. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), (d); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iii), (d). If the ALJ finds the
claimant’s severe impairments do not meet or medically equal a listed impairment,
then the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform his past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv),
(e)–(f); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv), (e)–(f).
If the claimant cannot perform his past relevant work, the ALJ must determine
at step five whether the claimant’s RFC permits him to perform other work that
exists in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), (g),
416.920(a)(4)(v), (g). At the fifth step, there are two ways in which the ALJ may
establish whether the claimant is capable of performing other work available in the
national economy. The first is by applying the Medical Vocational Guidelines, and
the second is by the use of a vocational expert. Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232,
1239-40 (11th Cir. 2004); Atha v. Comm’r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 616 F. App’x 931, 933
(11th Cir. 2015).
The claimant bears the burden of proof through step four. Atha, 616 F. App’x
at 933. If the claimant meets this burden, then the burden temporarily shifts to the
Commissioner to establish the fifth step. Id.; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v), (g); 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v), (g). If the Commissioner presents evidence of other work
that exists in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant is able
to perform, only then does the burden shift back to the claimant to prove he is unable
to perform these jobs. Atha, 616 F. App’x at 993.
Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance
benefits on July 9, 2018, alleging disability beginning January 15, 2018. (Tr. 59,
155-56). The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 59, 72).
Plaintiff requested a hearing and on May 8, 2020, a hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge William Greer (“ALJ”). (Tr. 30-45). On July 7, 2020, the
ALJ entered a decision finding Plaintiff not under a disability from January 15, 2018,
through the date last insured. (Tr. 15-25).
Plaintiff requested review of the decision, but the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff’s request on December 2, 2020. (Tr. 1-5). Plaintiff initiated the instant
action by Complaint (Doc. 1) filed on January 29, 2021, and the case is ripe for
review. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge
for all proceedings. (Doc. 23).
Summary of ALJ’s Decision
In this matter, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through September 30, 2018. (Tr. 17). At step one of the
sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity from his alleged onset date of January 15, 2018, through his date last
insured of September 30, 2018. (Tr. 18). At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: “degenerative disc disease; major joint
dysfunction.” (Tr. 18). At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of any of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, and 404.1526). (Tr. 18).
Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light
work as defined in 20 [C.F.R. §] 404.1567(b) except: lift 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sit for 7 hours
total and for 1 hour at a time over an 8-hour workday; stand or
walk for 4 hours total and for 1 hour at a time over an 8-hour
workday; no crawling; occasional ramp/stair climbing;
bending, stooping, crouching, kneeling, or reaching above
At step four, the ALJ found Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant
work. (Tr. 23). At step five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a vocational expert
to find that considering Plaintiff’s age (53 years old on the date last insured),
education (at least high school), work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform.
(Tr. 23-24). Specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform such
(1) information clerk, DOT 237.367-018,1 light, unskilled
(2) marker, DOT 209.587-034, light, unskilled
(3) sorter, DOT 569.687-022, light, unskilled
(Tr. 24). The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not been under a disability from
January 15, 2018, the alleged onset date, through September 30, 2018, the date last
insured. (Tr. 25).
On appeal, Plaintiff raises three issues: (1) whether substantial evidence
supports the ALJ’s finding that Plaintiff did not meet listing 1.04; (2) whether the
ALJ adequately evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints of pain; and (3) whether
the ALJ’s evaluation of Dr. Reddy’s opinion is supported by substantial evidence.
(Doc. 26, p. 9, 13, 18).
Plaintiff claims that his spine impairments met medical listing 1.04(A) for
spine disorders, and the ALJ erred by not finding he met this listing. (Doc. 26, p. 9)
The burden lies with Plaintiff to show that he has an impairment that meets or
medically equals a listed impairment. Barclay v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 274
F. App’x 738, 741 (11th Cir. 2008). For an impairment to meet a listing, a plaintiff
must show that it meets all the specified medical criteria. Bailey v. Soc. Sec. Admin.,
DOT refers to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.
Comm’r, 782 F. App’x 838, 840 (11th Cir. 2019) (citing Sullivan v. Zebley, 493 U.S.
521, 530 (1990)). If an impairment meets only some criteria, then it will not qualify,
no matter the severity of the impairment. Id. To meet a listing, a claimant must have
a diagnosis included in a listing and provide medical reports documenting that the
conditions meet the specific criteria of a listing and the duration requirement. Id.
(citing Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1224 (11th Cir. 2002)).
Listing 1.04 provides:
1.04 Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus,
spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis,
degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture),
resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda
equina) or the spinal cord. With:
A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuroanatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine,
motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or
muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and,
if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg
raising test (sitting and supine);
20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App’x 1, § 1.04(A). The ALJ considered listing 1.04
and found, “[t]he evidence does not document nerve root compromise with nerve
root compression with muscle atrophy and associated weakness, spinal
arachnoiditis, or lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, as specified
in listing 1.04 (Exhibits 2F; 12F).” (Tr. 18).
Plaintiff claims he satisfies all of the criteria of the listing. (Doc. 26, p. 10).
The Commissioner argues that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that his condition
resulted in muscle atrophy with associated weakness or muscle weakness,
particularly for any consecutive period of at least twelve months. (Doc. 26, p. 12).
Plaintiff cites a loss of motor strength and an occasional diminished sensation in his
left lower extremity. (Doc. 26, p. 10-11, Tr. 237, 368). On review of the medical
records, the Court did not find any records that mentioned muscle atrophy and
Plaintiff cites none. While some records mention decreased strength and mild leftfoot weakness (Tr. 237, 368), other records show full 5/5 motor strength in the upper
and lower extremities (Tr. 365, 373, 380, 389). Even if Plaintiff had occasional
muscle weakness, Plaintiff has not shown that any muscle weakness met the duration
requirements of the listings. See 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App’x 1, § 1.00. Thus,
substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s finding that Plaintiff did not meet or equal
Subjective Complaints of Pain
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred in considering Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints of pain. (Doc. 26, p. 15-16). Plaintiff argues that the ALJ suggested
Plaintiff’s pain was controlled through conservative treatment, but this finding is not
supported by substantial evidence. (Doc. 26, p. 15). Plaintiff also argues that the ALJ
erred in drawing a negative inference from Plaintiff’s daily activities. (Doc. 26, p.
A claimant may establish that he is disabled through his own testimony of
pain or other subjective symptoms. Ross v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 794 F. App’x 858,
867 (11th Cir. 2019) (citing Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005)).
In such a case, a claimant must establish:
“(1) evidence of an underlying medical condition and either (2)
objective medical evidence that confirms the severity of the
alleged pain arising from that condition or (3) that the
objectively determined medical condition is of such a severity
that it can be reasonably expected to give rise to the alleged
Id. (quoting Dyer, 395 F.3d at 1210).
When evaluating a claimant’s testimony, the ALJ should consider: (1) the
claimant’s daily activities; (2) the location, duration, frequency, and intensity of the
claimant’s pain or other symptoms; (3) precipitating and aggravating factors; (4) the
type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of any medication to alleviate pain or
other symptoms; (5) treatment other than medication for relief of pain or other
symptoms; (6) any measures a claimant uses to relieve pain or other symptoms; and
(7) other factors concerning a claimant’s functional limitations and restrictions due
to pain or other symptoms. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(c)(3), 416.929(c)(3); Ross v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 794 F. App’x 858, 867 (11th Cir. 2019).
The ALJ should consider these factors along with all of the evidence of record.
Ross, 794 F. App’x 867. If the ALJ discredits this testimony, then the ALJ “‘must
clearly articulate explicit and adequate reasons for’ doing so.” Id. (quoting Dyer, 395
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F.3d at 1210). The ALJ may consider the consistency of the claimant’s statements
along with the rest of the record to reach this determination. Id. Such findings “‘are
the province of the ALJ,’ and we will ‘not disturb a clearly articulated credibility
finding supported by substantial evidence.’” Id. (quoting Mitchell v. Comm’r of Soc.
Sec., 771 F.3d 780, 782 (11th Cir. 2014)). A decision will be affirmed as long as the
decision is not a “broad rejection which is not enough to enable [a reviewing court]
to conclude that the ALJ considered [the claimant’s] medical condition as a whole.”
Dyer, 395 F.3d at 1211 (quotation and brackets omitted).
After considering Plaintiff’s medical condition as a whole, the ALJ found
Plaintiff’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 entirely
consistent with the medical evidence and other evidence in the record.” (Tr. 21).
Later in the decision, the ALJ explained how he reached this conclusion:
The intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of the
claimant’s symptoms have been considered under the process
set forth in the regulations (SSR 16-3p). The record documents
evidence underlying the claimant’s impairments that could be
expected to produce the claimant’s reported symptoms
(Exhibits 2F; 3F; 5F; 12F). However, the overall evidence does
not support the level of symptom intensity, persistence, and
functionally limiting effect alleged by the claimant. In May
2018, the claimant reported improvement with conservative
treatment of episodic low back pain, and stated his pain level
as 1/10 (Exhibit 2F at 3). The claimant opted for continued
conservative care (Exhibit 2F at 4). The claimant reported
walking occasionally for exercise (Exhibit 12F at 5, 7). He
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reported his medication as 90% effective in relieving pain, with
a residual 1-2 pain level in October 2018 (Exhibit 4E). The
claimant reported independent selfcare, did house cleaning and
laundry, could lift 15 pounds, and shopped (Exhibit 4E). The
evidence in this case supports an intensity and persistence of
subjective symptoms consistent with functional limitation for
light work-related activity with reduced frequency of climbing,
reaching, and postural activity, as stated in the residual
Plaintiff challenges the ALJ’s statement that Plaintiff’s pain was controlled
through conservative treatment. (Doc. 26, p. 15). In a Supplemental Pain
Questionnaire completed by Plaintiff in October 2018, Plaintiff stated he has pain at
a level 1-2 everyday, but some days he had greater pain. (Tr. 190). He also stated
that pain medication is “effective 90%,” but did include that on bad days he did not
leave the house. (Tr. 190). In May 2018, Plaintiff reported he had episodes of back
pain that generally lasted two weeks, but the present episode lasted about six weeks
and he was concerned. (Tr. 19-20, 23, 237). Plaintiff also reported that his pain was
a 1/10 in May 2018. (Tr. 23, 237). Plaintiff continued with the conservative
treatment of medication. (Tr. 23, 237). In August 2018, Plaintiff complained of low
back pain with radiation of pain to lower left leg and foot. (Tr. 20, 367). He reported
walking occasionally for exercise. (Tr. 20, 368). Plaintiff was treated with
medication. (Tr. 20, 367). A few months after the date last insured, Plaintiff had no
lumbar tenderness and had full motor strength in both upper and lower extremities.
(Tr. 21, 365). The treatment notes also reflect a recommendation for 30 minutes of
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exercise daily and 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise encouraged. (Tr. 21,
366). In sum, the ALJ referred to the record in finding Plaintiff had improvement
with conservative treatment, chose continued conservative care, and reported his
medication as 90% effective in relieving pain, with residual pain at a 1-2 level
evidence. (Tr. 23). Substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s finding that Plaintiff’s
intensity and persistence of subjective symptoms is inconsistent with the medical
and other evidence of record and supports an RFC for light work-related activities.
Plaintiff also argues that the ALJ erred in drawing negative inferences from
Plaintiff’s daily activities. (Doc. 26, p. 15). Plaintiff claims that the ALJ incorrectly
noted that Plaintiff was independent in his self-care and able to perform
housecleaning and laundry, when Plaintiff actually noted that he had to move slowly
and carefully when taking care of his personal needs or performing chores. (Doc. 26,
p. 16). Plaintiff also stated he never lifted items over 15 pounds and on bad days, he
was unable to leave the house. (Doc. 26, p. 16). Plaintiff argues that the ALJ should
have found Plaintiff unable to complete an eight-hour workday or a five-day work
week. (Doc. 26, p. 16).
Contrary to Plaintiff’s argument, the ALJ acknowledged that Plaintiff
reported performing personal care, house cleaning, and laundry “slowly and
carefully.” (Tr. 20). He also acknowledged that Plaintiff reported he did not lift more
than fifteen pounds. (Tr. 20). In devising the RFC, the ALJ considered these
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statements along with the entire record including Plaintiff’s medical condition as a
whole and then clearly articulated reasons that support his position concerning
Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and the resulting RFC. Substantial evidence
supports these findings. Thus, the ALJ did not err in his consideration of Plaintiff’s
subjective complaints, including daily activities.
Chandon Reddy, M.D.’s Opinion
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ did not provide sufficient justification for finding
Dr. Reddy’s opinion unpersuasive and the reasons given were not supported by
substantial evidence. (Doc. 26, p. 19). The regulations for disability cases filed after
March 27, 2017 – such as this one – changed and an ALJ no longer defers or give
any specific evidentiary weight to a medical opinion. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520c(a), 20
C.F.R. § 416.920c(a). Thus, an ALJ no longer uses the term “treating source” and
does not defer or give specific evidentiary weight, including controlling weight, to
any medical opinion or prior administrative medical finding. Torres v. Comm’r of
Soc. Sec., No. 6:19-cv-1662-ORL-PDB, 2020 WL 5810273, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Sept.
30, 2020) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520c(a)).
Instead, an ALJ assesses the persuasiveness of a medical source’s opinions
given the following five factors, with the first two being the most important: (1)
supportability; (2) consistency; (3) relationship with the claimant, including the
length, frequency, and purpose of the examining and any treatment relationship; (4)
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specialization; and (5) other factors, such as the source’s familiarity with other
evidence concerning the claim, that tend to support or contradict the medical
opinion. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520c(a)-(c); 20 C.F.R. § 404.920c(a)-(c). An ALJ may
but is not required to explain how he considers factors other than supportability and
consistency, unless two or more opinions are equally persuasive on the same issue.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520c(b)(2); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920c(b)(2).
For supportability, the revised rules provide: “The more relevant the objective
medical evidence and supporting explanations presented by a medical source are to
support his or her medical opinion(s) or prior administrative medical finding(s), the
more persuasive the medical opinions or prior administrative medical finding(s) will
be.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520c(c)(1); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920c(c)(1). For consistency, the
revised rules provide: “The more consistent a medical opinion(s) or prior
administrative medical finding(s) is with the evidence from other medical sources
and nonmedical sources in the claim, the more persuasive the medical opinion(s) or
prior administrative medical finding(s) will be.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520c(c)(2); 20
C.F.R. § 416.920c(c)(2).
The new regulations also differentiate between medical opinions and “other
medical evidence.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513(a)(2)-(3). “A medical opinion is a
statement from a medical source about what you can still do despite your
impairment(s) and whether you have one or more impairment-related limitations or
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restrictions” in the abilities listed in paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (iv). 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1513(a)(2). “Other medical evidence is evidence from a medical source that
is not objective medical evidence or a medical opinion, including judgments about
the nature and severity of your impairments, your medical history, clinical findings,
diagnosis, treatment prescribed with response, or prognosis.” 20 C.F.R.
The ALJ thoroughly summarized Dr. Reddy’s treatment notes from May 2018
through July 2019. (Tr. 21-23). He noted that Plaintiff reported back pain and that
the back pain had lessened in intensity and he showed improvement. (Tr. 20). While
the ALJ noted that Plaintiff was required to demonstrate that he was disabled on or
before September 2018, he still discussed Dr. Reddy’s treatment records from May
and August 2019, after the date last insured. (Tr. 21). These records show a
worsening or deterioration of Plaintiff’s back condition. (Tr. 21-22, 415).
The ALJ then summarized Dr. Reddy’s August 13, 2019 Medical Opinion
Form, completed nearly a year after the date last insured:
The medical opinion from Dr. Reddy is not found to be
supported by or consistent with the overall evidence and is not
considered persuasive (Exhibit 15F). Dr. Reddy stated that the
claimant would have to rest all day, and could lift 5 pounds
occasionally. The records show[ ] that the claimant was
encourage[d] to exercise daily, and reported walking
occasionally for exercise (Exhibit 12F at 6, 7). The claimant
reported that he could sit, stand, and walk for one hour each
continuously. He reported his pain medication as 90%
effective, and was noted in medical follow up in no apparent
distress (Exhibits 4E; 12F at 6). The claimant stated that he
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performed self-care, did some house cleaning and laundry,
could lift 15 pounds, and shopped (Exhibit 4E). The
undersigned finds that the overall evidence supports the
claimant as less limited than stated in Dr. Reddy’s opinion,
consistent with a reduced range of light work as stated in the
residual functional capacity.
In essence, the ALJ found Dr. Reddy’s opinion that contained extreme
limitations to be inconsistent with Dr. Reddy’s own treatment records and
unsupported by the medical and other evidence of record. Dr. Reddy found Plaintiff
unable to sit, stand, or walk in an 8-hour workday and would require bedrest for 6-8
hours during a normal workday. (Tr. 417). As the ALJ acknowledged, Dr. Reddy
noted that Plaintiff reported his pain flared up and then reduced down to a 2/10 level
and improved in May 2018. (Tr. 415). Again in January 2019 (approximately three
months after the date last insured), Plaintiff reported that he was symptomatically
improving slowly over time. (Tr. 415). These records are inconsistent with Dr.
Reddy’s opinion that contained extreme limitations. Plus, Plaintiff reported that he
could sit and stand for no more than an hour, could handle personal care,
housecleaning, and laundry slowly and carefully, and could walk slowly without
problem for no more than one hour. (Doc. 190). Plaintiff own subjective statements
do not support Dr. Reddy’s extreme limitations.
Beginning in April 2019, about six months after the date last insured, Plaintiff
reported to Dr. Reddy worsening symptoms over the past 6 weeks and the symptoms
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continued to worsen in May and July 2019. (Tr. 415). But these records are months
after the date last insured. For a period of disability and disability insurance benefits,
Plaintiff must prove that he was disabled before his date last insured of September
30, 2018. Castle v. Colvin, 557 F. App’x 849, 853 (11th Cir. 2014). If he became
disabled after his date last insured or his condition deteriorated or worsened, then
his claim must be denied despite his disability and despite any deterioration because
the evidence does not pertain to the relevant period. Mason v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
430 F. App’x 830, 831, 833 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d
1208, 1211 (11th Cir. 2005)). Dr. Reddy’s treatment notes after the date last insured
do not show that they relate to the time period on or before September 30, 2018.
Thus, substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s determination that Dr. Reddy’s
opinion was unpersuasive.
For the reasons discussed above, the Court finds that the decision of the
Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence and the Commissioner applied
the correct legal standard. The decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The
Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment consistent with this opinion, terminate
all deadlines, and close the case.
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DONE and ORDERED in Fort Myers, Florida on August 1, , 2022.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel of Record
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