United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STEPHAN M. VIDMAR United States Magistrate Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Reverse and Remand for Rehearing, with Supporting Memorandum
[Doc. 18] (“Motion”), filed on August 2, 2017.
The Commissioner responded on September 27, 2017. [Doc. 20].
Plaintiff replied on October 25, 2017. [Doc. 21]. The parties
have consented to the undersigned's entering final
judgment in this case. [Doc. 9]. Having meticulously reviewed
the entire record and being fully advised in the premises,
the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to meet his burden as
the movant to show that the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) did not apply the correct legal standards
or that his decision was not supported by substantial
evidence. Accordingly, the Motion will be denied and the
Commissioner's final decision affirmed.
standard of review in a Social Security appeal is whether the
Commissioner's final decision is supported by substantial
evidence and whether the correct legal standards were
applied. Maes v. Astrue, 522 F.3d 1093, 1096 (10th
Cir. 2008). If substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's findings and the correct legal standards
were applied, the Commissioner's decision stands and the
plaintiff is not entitled to relief. Langley v.
Barnhart, 373 F.3d 1116, 1118 (10th Cir. 2004). Courts
must meticulously review the entire record, but may neither
reweigh the evidence nor substitute their judgment for that
of the Commissioner. Flaherty v. Astrue, 515 F.3d
1067, 1070 (10th Cir. 2007).
evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Langley, 373 F.3d at 1118. The decision “is
not based on substantial evidence if it is overwhelmed by
other evidence in the record or if there is a mere scintilla
of evidence supporting it.” Id. While a court
may not reweigh the evidence or try the issues de novo, its
examination of the record as a whole must include
“anything that may undercut or detract from the
[Commissioner]'s findings in order to determine if the
substantiality test has been met.” Grogan v.
Barnhart, 399 F.3d 1257, 1262 (10th Cir. 2005).
“The possibility of drawing two inconsistent
conclusions from the evidence does not prevent [the] findings
from being supported by substantial evidence.” Lax
v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Zoltanski v. F.A.A., 372 F.3d 1195, 1200 (10th Cir.
failure to apply the correct legal standard or to provide
this court with a sufficient basis to determine that
appropriate legal principles have been followed is grounds
for reversal.” Jensen v. Barnhart, 436 F.3d
1163, 1165 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks
Law and Sequential Evaluation Process
order to qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must
establish 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 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R.
considering a disability application, the Commissioner is
required to use a five step sequential evaluation process. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520; Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S.
137, 140 (1987). At the first four steps of the evaluation
process, the claimant must show: (1) he is not engaged in
“substantial gainful activity”; and (2)
he has a “severe medically determinable . . .
impairment . . . or a combination of impairments” that
has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year;
and (3) his impairment(s) either meet or equal one
of the Listings of presumptively disabling impairments;
or (4) he is unable to perform his “past
relevant work.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i-iv);
Grogan, 399 F.3d at 1261. If he cannot show that his
impairment meets or equals a Listing, but he proves that he
is unable to perform his “past relevant work, ”
the burden of proof then shifts to the Commissioner, at step
five, to show that the claimant is able to perform other work
in the national economy, considering his RFC, age, education,
and work experience. Grogan, 399 F.3d at 1261.
is already receiving supplemental security income
(“SSI”) based on his disability. He filed his
application for SSI in April of 2010. He submitted records
from his treating psychologist, Dr. Reed, including a 2011
opinion that Plaintiff's functional limitations had been
severe enough to meet a listing since 2008. Tr. 231-34; Tr.
232 (“As of 2008, he was not able to be competitively
employed.”). ALJ James A. Burke was persuaded by Dr.
Reed's 2011 opinion and found Plaintiff disabled as of
April 2010. Tr. 34. Claims for SSI cannot be granted prior to
the application date, 20 C.F.R. § 416.501, so ALJ Burke
did not consider whether Plaintiff became disabled prior to
April of 2010.
filed another application for benefits in March of 2014,
which is the subject of this appeal. See Tr. 21. He
claimed that he actually became disabled in 1997, when he was
18 years old. See Id. If he were able to establish
his disability prior to turning 22 on January 18, 2001, he
would be entitled to child insurance benefits
(“CIB”) on his father's earnings record.
See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. §
404.350(a). If he were able to establish his disability prior
the expiration of his own insured status on June 30, 2004, he
would be entitled to disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) on his own earnings record. Accordingly,
with respect to the appeal at bar, the relevant time periods
are prior to January 18, 2001 (for the CIB claim), and prior
to Plaintiff's date last insured, June 30, 2004 (for the
DIB claim). [Doc. 18] at 2; Tr. 24
and Other Evidence
submitted only a few pieces of evidence to support his March
2014 application. He submitted his treatment records from Dr.
Reed, including Dr. Reed's 2011 opinion, Tr. 231- 34, and
a few records dated August 5 and ...