United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. WALKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Betty Jones filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) seeking review of a decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (Commissioner) denying her application for
Social Security Disability benefits. Doc. . The parties
have filed memoranda in support of their respective
positions. Doc.  & . Jones filed her application
for disability benefits alleging disability beginning August
29, 2013, resulting from osteoarthritis, asthma, high blood
pressure, depression, herniated disc, pinched nerve, acid
reflux, and back fusion. Doc.  at 104-06, 120. Jones was
54 years old at the alleged onset of disability, with an
8th grade education, and past relevant work as a
snack bar attendant and snack bar manager. Id. at
application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
Id. at 58-72. She requested and was granted a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Id. at 29-57. The ALJ found that Jones had severe
impairments of obesity, sciatica, and lumbar degenerative
disc disease with stenosis. Id. at 16. The ALJ
further found that Jones retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform the full range of light work.
Id. at 17. The ALJ concluded that Jones was capable
of performing past relevant work as a snack bar attendant;
therefore, she was not disabled. Id. at 22. The
Appeals Council denied Jones' request for review.
Id. at 5-8. Having exhausted her administrative
proceedings, Jones filed the instant lawsuit. Jones now
argues that (1) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the
credibility of her subjective complaints; and (2) the
ALJ's RFC finding is not supported by substantial
federal district court reviews the Commissioner's
decision only to determine whether the final decision is
supported by substantial evidence and whether the
Commissioner used the proper legal standards to evaluate the
evidence. Brown v. Apfel, 192 F.3d 492, 496 (5th
Cir. 1999); Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173
(5th Cir. 1995). If the court determines the
Commissioner's decision to be supported by substantial
evidence, then the findings are conclusive and the court must
affirm the decision. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 390 (1971). See also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
This standard requires supporting evidence that is
“‘more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.'”
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (quoting
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229
(1938)). The court is not permitted to “reweigh the
evidence in the record, nor try any issues de novo, nor
substitute our judgment for the judgment of the
[Commissioner], even if the evidence preponderates against
the [Commissioner's] decision.” Johnson v.
Bowen, 864 F.2d 340, 343 (5th Cir. 1988).
“‘Conflicts in the evidence are for the
[Commissioner] and not the courts to resolve.'”
Brown, 192 F.3d at 496 (quoting Selders v.
Sullivan, 914 F.2d 614, 617 (5th Cir. 1990)). While the
court may alter the Commissioner's decision if based upon
faulty legal analysis, the court should defer to the
Commissioner's legal conclusions if they are within a
permissible meaning of the statutory or regulatory language.
Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. National Resources Defense
Council, 467 U.S. 837, 843-44 (1984).
claimant bears the burden of proving the existence of a
medically determinable impairment that has prevented the
claimant from engaging in substantial gainful employment. 42
U.S.C. § 423 (d)(1)(A); 42 U.S.C. § 423 (d)(5). The
Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes a five-step
sequential process to determine whether a claimant is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a), § 404.920(a).
Under this analysis, the ALJ may decide a claimant is
disabled if he finds that (1) the claimant is not employed in
substantial gainful activity; (2) the claimant has a severe,
medically determinable impairment; (3) the claimant's
impairment meets or equals one of the listings in appendix 1
to subpart P of § 404; (4) the impairment prevents the
claimant from performing any past relevant work; and (5) the
impairment prevents the claimant's ability to adjust to
performing any other work. Id.
claimant initially bears the burden of proving disability
under the first four steps, but the burden shifts to the SSA
for the fifth step. Chapparo v. Bowen, 815 F.2d
1008, 1010 (5th Cir. 1987). Therefore, if the
claimant proves that he is unable to perform past relevant
work, the SSA must demonstrate that the claimant can perform
another occupation that exists in significant numbers in the
national economy. The burden then shifts back to the claimant
to establish that he cannot perform this alternative
argues that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate her
subjective complaints and credibility. Specifically,
Plaintiff contends that she presented significant evidence of
a medically determinable impairment capable of producing
disabling pain. She further asserts that the ALJ selectively
viewed the evidence or failed to recognize Jones'
reported limitations. Finally, Jones argues that the ALJ
improperly discredited the function report submitted by her
the ALJ must consider a claimant's subjective complaints,
she is allowed to examine the objective medical evidence to
test claimant's credibility. Johnson v. Heckler,
767 F.2d 180, 182 (5th Cir. 1985). Subjective evidence of
symptoms will not take precedence over conflicting medical
evidence. Harper v. Sullivan, 887 F.2d 92, 96 (5th
Cir. 1989). A claimant's subjective complaints may be
discounted by an ALJ if they are inconsistent with other
evidence in the record. Dunbar v. Barnhart, 330 F.3d
670, 672 (5th Cir. 2003). Moreover, judgment as to the
credibility of testimony is the sole province of the ALJ.
See Carrier v. Sullivan, 944 F.2d 243, 247 (5th Cir.
1991). The Fifth Circuit has held that the ALJ's
credibility determination is entitled to considerable
deference. See Falco v. Sullivan, 27 F.3d 160, 164
(5th Cir. 1994).
concluded that Jones' sciatica and lumbar degenerative
disc disease could reasonably be expected to cause some
limitations, but she found that Jones' allegations of
symptoms and limitations were not consistent with the
objective medical evidence or her functional ability. Doc.
 at 20. The ALJ cited to numerous instances where the
record contradicted Jones' allegations of disabling pain.
For example, the ALJ noted that in a Function Report she
indicated that she was able to do dusting, wash dishes, and
loads of laundry. Id. at 19. In a medical record
dated June 14, 2013, she reported to Dr. Terry Smith that on
the previous day she had mowed the yard for about one hour on
a riding mower. Id. The ALJ also relied on a medical
report from July 1, 2013, indicating that Jones reported no
complaints and that she had improved since her last visit.
Id. Her records also showed that she spent at least
20 minutes, five times a week, walking. Id. On
January 2, 2013, she reported no complaints. Id. On
April 2, 2013, she reported doing much better since her back
surgery, had no current complaints, and was feeling good.
Id. A medical report from Dr. Shawn Mei dated August
9, 2013, showed on examination no pain in muscles or joints,
no limitation of range of motion and no paresthesia or
numbness. Id. at 20. As of July 14, 2013, Jones
reported she had stopped using a walker and cane.
Id. at 21. At several office visits subsequent to
her February 2013 back surgery Jones reported doing much
better and feeling good. Id. Although Jones has
pointed to evidence that might support her allegations of
disabling pain, these arguments go to the weight of the
evidence. The ALJ weighed the conflicting evidence and relied
on evidence, both from Jones and from the medical records,
that contradicted her allegations of disabling pain. This
Court will not re-weigh the evidence. Rather, the Court
upholds the ALJ's decision regarding Jones'
credibility, because it is supported by substantial evidence.
argues that the ALJ erred in determining her RFC. According
to Jones, the ALJ relied on his own reading of the medical
records and failed to obtain a medical assessment addressing
Jones' physical capabilities and mental functioning.
Although not cited by Jones, she appears to argue that the
ALJ failed to conduct a function-by-function analysis of her
RFC. The Fifth Circuit held, in the context of Social
Security Ruling 96-8p, that an ALJ must perform a
function-by-function analysis of a claimant's capacity to
perform sustained work-related physical and mental
activities. Myers v. Apfel, 238 F.3d 617, 620-22
(5th Cir. 2001). The Fifth Circuit explained that
the ALJ should take into consideration the medical evidence
from all of the claimant's treating doctors and present
good cause why any such evidence is rejected. Id. at
to Myers, the Fifth Circuit clarified that an RFC
based in part on a state examiner's function-by-function
analysis of a claimant's limitations satisfies the legal
standard set forth in Myers and SSR 96-8p. See
Onishea v. Barnhart, 116 Fed. App'x 1, 2
(5th Cir. 2004) (unpublished). In another opinion,
where claimant argued that the Commissioner failed to conduct
a function-by-function analysis, the Fifth Circuit held that
“[a]lthough the Commissioner did not consider each
function of [claimant's] past work, there was no
conflicting evidence and substantial evidence supported the
Commissioner's finding.” Williams v.
Barnhart, 70 Fed. App'x 183, 184 (5th
Cir. 2003) (unpublished). Then later in Porter v.
Barnhart, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the ALJ