United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jamall Henry Falls seeks judicial review pursuant to Section
405(g) of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the “Commissioner”), denying
plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income under
Title XVI of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c. This matter was
referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.2E(B).
November 17, 2015, Falls filed a Title XVI application for
supplemental security income, alleging a disability onset
date of October 24, 2015. (Tr. 12, 67, 187). After his claim
was denied at the agency level, plaintiff requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which
was held on October 26, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Tr.
37-66). Plaintiff appeared in person and was represented by
counsel. Id. The ALJ issued a decision on January
18, 2018, finding that Falls was not disabled. (Tr. 12-20).
Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied plaintiff's request on
December 6, 2018, and the ALJ's decision became the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this
court's review. (Tr. 1-6).
filed his complaint in this court on January 10, 2019. Record
Doc. No. 1. Falls timely filed his memorandum of facts and
law on April 24, 2019. Record Doc. No. 10. Defendant timely
filed her reply memorandum of facts and law on May 23, 2019.
Record Doc. No. 11.
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUE ON APPEAL
contends that the Commissioner made the following errors:
A. The ALJ erred at Step Three of the sequential evaluation
in failing to address any medical opinions in her finding
that plaintiff did not meet the criteria of Paragraph B of
B. Substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's
finding at Step Three of the sequential evaluation.
Doc. No. 10 at pp. 8-10.
ALJ'S FINDINGS RELEVANT TO ISSUE ON APPEAL
made the following findings relevant to the issue on appeal:
1. Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since November 17, 2015.
2. Falls has the severe impairments of schizophrenia and
3. He does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1.
4. Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform
a full range of work at all exertional levels, but with the
following non-exertional limitations: plaintiff is limited to
performing tasks with a Specific Vocational Preparation level
of two or less, with no interaction with the public, no more
than occasional interaction with co-workers or supervisors,
no more than occasional changes in the work setting or
routine and no driving as part of his work duties.
5. Plaintiff has no past relevant work.
6. Based on plaintiff's age, education, work experience
and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that he can
perform, including cleaner, general office clerk and packer.
7. Falls was not under a disability since November 15, 2015.
Standards of Review
function of this court on judicial review is limited to
determining whether there is substantial evidence in the
record to support the final decision of the Commissioner as
trier of fact and whether the Commissioner applied the
appropriate legal standards in evaluating the evidence.
Richard ex rel. Z.N.F. v. Astrue, 480 Fed.Appx. 773,
776 (5th Cir. 2012) (citing Perez v. Barnhart, 415
F.3d 457, 461 (5th Cir. 2005)); Stringer v. Astrue,
465 Fed.Appx. 361, 363 (5th Cir. 2012) (citing Waters v.
Barnhart, 276 F.3d 716, 716 (5th Cir. 2002)).
Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Richard ex rel. Z.N.F., 480 Fed.Appx. at 776;
Stringer, 465 Fed.Appx. at 363-64; Perez,
415 F.3d at 461. This court may not reweigh the evidence in
the record, try the issues de novo or substitute its
judgment for the Commissioner's, even if the evidence
weighs against the Commissioner's decision. Halterman
ex rel. Halterman v. Colvin, 544 Fed.Appx. 358, 360 (5th
Cir. 2013) (citing Newton v. Apfel, 209
F.3d 448, 452 (5th Cir. 2000)); Stringer, 465
Fed.Appx. at 364. The Commissioner, rather than the courts,
must resolve conflicts in the evidence. McCaskill v.
Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 640 Fed.Appx.
331, 332-33 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Perez, 415 F.3d
at 461); Luckey v. Astrue, 458 Fed.Appx. 322, 324
(5th Cir. 2011) (citing Selders v. Sullivan, 914
F.2d 614, 617 (5th Cir. 1990)); Newton, 209 F.3d at
is entitled to make any finding that is supported by
substantial evidence, regardless whether other conclusions
are also permissible. See Arkansas v. Oklahoma, 503
U.S. 91 (1992). Despite this court's limited function, it
must scrutinize the record in its entirety to determine the
reasonableness of the decision reached and whether
substantial evidence supports it. Joubert v. Astrue,
287 Fed.Appx. 380, 382 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing
Perez, 415 F.3d at 461). Any findings of fact by the
Commissioner that are supported by substantial evidence are
conclusive. Ray v. Barnhart, 163 Fed.Appx. 308, 311
(5th Cir. 2006) (citing Perales, 402 U.S. at 390);
Perez, 415 F.3d at 461.
considered disabled and eligible for supplemental security
income, plaintiff must show that he is 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. § 423(d)(1)(A). The
Commissioner has promulgated regulations that provide
procedures for evaluating a claim and determining disability.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1501 to 404.1599 & appendices,
§§ 416.901 to 416.998 (2016). The regulations
include a five-step evaluation process for determining
whether an impairment prevents a person from engaging in any
substantial gainful activity.Id. §§
404.1520, 416.920; Alexander v. Astrue, 412