Lopez Pena v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 25 Report and Recommendations. Plaintiff's Pena's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19 ) is granted. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20 ) is denied. This case is remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings in accordance with Judge Otazo-Reyes's Report and Recommendation. Signed by Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr on 7/11/2017. (mc)
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
Josefa Lopez Pena, Plaintiff
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
Civil Action No. 16-21376-Civ-Scola
Order Adopting Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation
This matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Alicia M.
Otazo-Reyes for a ruling on all pre-trial, nondispositive matters, and for a
Report and Recommendation on any dispositive matters. On May 8th, 2017,
Judge Otazo-Reyes issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that
the Court grant Plaintiff Josefa Lopez Pena’s motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 19), and that the Court deny the Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment (ECF No. 20). Neither party filed objections to this report. After
reviewing the filings, the applicable law, and the record, the Court adopts
Judge Otazo-Reyes’s Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 25), grants
Plaintiff Pena’s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 19), denies the
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 20), and remands this
case to the Commissioner for further proceedings in accordance with Judge
Otazo-Reyes’s Report and Recommendation.
A district-court judge need conduct a de novo review of only “those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to
which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636. When no objections are made, a
report a report may be adopted in full without conducting de novo review. Id.
Nevertheless, the Court reviewed the filings, the applicable law, and the record,
and finds that there is insufficient basis to support a determination that the
administrative law judge (ALJ) followed appropriate legal principles in finding
that Pena is not disabled and can perform jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy.
This court is bound to uphold the ALJ’s findings “if they are supported
by ‘substantial evidence’ and if there exists no other ‘good cause’ to remand.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Smith v. Heckler, 707 F.2d
1284, 1285 (11th Cir. 1983). However, “no similar presumption of validity
attaches to the [ALJ’s] conclusions of law, including the determination of
proper standards to be applied when reviewing claims.” Wiggins v. Schweiker,
679 F.2d 1387, 1389 (11th Cir. 1982). Failure to apply the proper legal
standard or to provide the court with a sufficient basis to determine that
appropriate legal principles have been followed is grounds for reversal. Id.;
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986).
To qualify for supplemental security income, a claimant must be
disabled—in other words, be “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 twelve months.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). “Physical or mental impairments include impairments
that result from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(D). Regulations issued by the
Social Security Administration prescribe a five-step sequence to be followed in
determining whether a claimant is entitled to supplemental security income.
See also McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986). In
assessing medical evidence, an ALJ is “required to state with particularity the
weight [given to] the different medical opinions and the reasons therefor.”
Sharfarz v. Bowen, 825 F.2d 278, 279 (11th Cir. 1987).
Pena argued that the ALJ incorrectly found that Pena had performed
past relevant work and improperly weighed the medical opinions of Pena’s
treating medical providers. (Report at 3, ECF No. 25; Pl.’s Mot. for Summ. J. at
11–20, ECF No. 19). First, the ALJ made a proper determination of past
relevant work because Pena failed to show that her work experience is not
substantial gainful activity. (Report at 15–16). See also Barnes v. Sullivan. 932
F.2d 1356, 1359 (11th Cir. 1991) (“[T]he claimant has the burden of showing
that certain work experience is not past relevant work.”). Second, the record
articulates good cause for giving the treating physicians’ opinions “no weight.”
(Report at 12–14); Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 (11th Cir. 2004)
(“The opinion of a treating physician . . . must be given substantial or
considerable weight unless ‘good cause’ is shown to the contrary.”)(internal
quotations and citation omitted).
Pena also argued that the ALJ failed to properly consider the medical
opinion of a consultative examiner. (Report at 3, ECF No. 25; Pl.’s Mot. for
Summ. J. at 20–22, ECF No. 19). The record shows that the ALJ did not make
particular statements as to the weight attributed to the consultative examiner’s
medical opinion. (Report at 10–11, ECF No. 25; T. 59, ECF No. 15). “In the
absence of such a statement, it is impossible for a reviewing court to determine
whether the ultimate decision on the merits of the claim is rational and
supported by substantial evidence.” Cowart v. Schweiker, 662 F.2d 731, 735
(11th Cir. 1981).
For these reasons, and the reasons explained in Judge Otazo-Reyes’s
Report and Recommendation, it is ordered and adjudged that Judge OtazoReyes’s Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 30) is affirmed and adopted,
and that this case be remanded to the Commissioner in accordance with that
Report and Recommendation.
Done and ordered in chambers, at Miami, Florida, on July 11, 2017.
Robert N. Scola, Jr.
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?