United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
LAGERTA M. POLK PLAINTIFF
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Nancy A. Berryhill DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael T. Parker United States Magistrate Judge
Lagerta M. Polk brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying her disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Having
reviewed the parties' submissions, the record, and the
applicable law, the Court finds the Commissioner's final
decision should be affirmed.
filed for disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income in January of 2015. Administrative R.  at
161-177. After the agency denied Plaintiff's application,
a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on April 5, 2017. Id. at 37-61.
The ALJ considered Plaintiff's health issues relating to
hypertension, lower-back pain, obesity, anxiety, and
depression. Id. at 22. After the hearing, the ALJ
issued an opinion finding that Plaintiff was not disabled and
not entitled to benefits. Id. at 20. Plaintiff
requested a review of the ALJ's decision. Id. at
1. The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's
decision and the ALJ's opinion was the final decision of
the Commissioner. Id. This appeal followed.
LAW JUDGE'S DECISION
opinion, the ALJ applied the five-step analysis found in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(b)-(g) and found that Plaintiff was not
disabled according to the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) definition. At step one, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
employment since September 13, 2013. Id. at 21.
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the following
severe impairments: hypertension, lower-back pain, obesity,
anxiety, and depression. Id. at 22. These
impairments were found to significantly interfere with
Plaintiff's ability to perform work-related activity.
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not
meet the requirements of any listed impairment in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id. The ALJ
considered how Plaintiff's obesity impacted her other
impairments but found that none rose to the level of a listed
impairment. Id. The ALJ further considered
Plaintiff's mental impairments and whether they satisfied
Listing 12.04 or 12.06. The ALJ considered the
“Paragraph B” and “Paragraph C”
criteria for these impairments and found that Plaintiff did
not satisfy them. Id. 22-23. The ALJ further noted
that mental limitations identified at step two and three are
not equivalent to the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) assessment at step four and five.
Id. at 23-24.
then assessed Plaintiff's RFC. She found that Plaintiff
had the capacity to perform light work. Id. at
24. Specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but never climb ladders,
ropes and scaffolds. She can occasionally stoop, kneel,
crouch, or crawl. She should never work around unprotected
heights or dangerous moving mechanical parts. She can perform
simple routine, repetitive tasks. She can occasionally
interact with supervisors, co-workers and the general
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform
past-relevant work as a hotel housekeeper. Id. at
27. Working as a hotel housekeeper aligned with the ALJ's
RFC assessment that Plaintiff could perform light work.
Id. While the ALJ did not have to proceed to step
five, as she found that Plaintiff could perform her
past-relevant work, the ALJ further found that other work
existed in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform
such as photocopy-machine operator, cafeteria attendant, and
advertising distributor. Id. at 28. After performing
the five-step sequential analysis, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled and not entitled to disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income.
Id. at 29.
Court will only review the Commissioner's denial of
benefits to determine if “(1) the final decision is
supported by substantial evidence and (2) whether the
Commissioner used the proper legal standards to evaluate the
evidence.” Newton v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 448, 452
(5th Cir. 2000). The Commissioner's decision must be
affirmed when there is substantial evidence to support the
findings. Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173 (5th
evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept to support a conclusion. It is more than a mere
scintilla and less than a preponderance.” Ripley v.
Chater, 67 F.3d 552, 555 (5th Cir. 1995) (internal
quotations omitted). Conflicts in evidence are the purview of
the Commissioner and are not for the Court to resolve or
review de novo. Selders v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 614,
617 (5th Cir. 1990). Moreover, “‘[p]rocedural
perfection in administrative proceedings is not required'
as long as ‘the substantial rights of a ...