United States District Court, D. New Mexico
PETER G. CALLAN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REVERSE AND
GREGORY B. WORMUTH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Reverse and Remand for Payment of Benefits, or in the
Alternative, for Rehearing, regarding the Social Security
Agency (“SSA”) decision to deny Plaintiff
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Doc. 20.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion, and REMANDS this action to the
Commissioner for further proceedings consistent with this
filed an application for SSI on December 24, 2014 with a
protective filing date of November 18, 2014. AR at 174-78.
Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of March 1, 2012
and that his disability stemmed from tumors removed from his
feet, nerve damage on both feet, and high blood pressure. AR
at 54. He later added anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia,
headaches, neuropathy, inflammation of the feet, and back,
knee, hip and neck pain to his alleged impairments. AR at 65.
His application was denied on initial review on April 10,
2015 and again on reconsideration on December 17, 2015. AR at
54-76, 100-04. On January 28, 2016, Plaintiff requested a
hearing on the determination by an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), and the hearing took place on October
20, 2016. AR at 20-53, 121-23. On December 14, 2016, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision, finding that Plaintiff was
not disabled. AR at 80-89.
appealed the denial of his application to the Appeals
Council, which denied review on March 2, 2017, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. AR
at 1-6. Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on April 11, 2017,
seeking review of the ALJ's decision. Doc. 1.
Standard of Review
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a court may review a final
decision of the Commissioner only to determine whether it (1)
is supported by “substantial evidence” and (2)
comports with the proper legal standards. Casias v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800-01 (10th Cir. 1991). “In reviewing the ALJ's
decision, we neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute our
judgment for that of the agency.” Bowman v.
Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008) (internal
evidence is “more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Casias, 933
F.3d at 800. “The record must demonstrate that the ALJ
considered all of the evidence.” Clifton v.
Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009-10 (10th Cir. 1996).
“[I]n addition to discussing the evidence supporting
his decision, the ALJ must also discuss the uncontroverted
evidence he chooses not to rely upon, as well as
significantly probative evidence he rejects.”
Id. at 1010. “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).
purposes of SSI benefits, an individual is disabled when he
or she 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. §
1382c(a)(3)(A). To determine whether a person satisfies these
criteria, the SSA has developed a five-step test.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. If the Commissioner
finds an individual disabled at any step, the next step is
not taken. Id. § 416.920(a)(4).
first four steps of the analysis, the claimant has the burden
to show: (1) she is not engaged in “substantial gainful
activity;” (2) she 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 that either (3) her impairments meet
or equal one of the “Listings” of presumptively
disabling impairments or (4) she is unable to perform her
“past relevant work.” Id. §
416.920(a)(4)(i-iv); Grogan v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d
1257, 1261 (10th Cir. 2005).
four of this analysis consists of three phases. See
Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017, 1023 (10th Cir. 1996).
First, the ALJ determines the claimant's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) in light of
“all of the relevant medical and other evidence.”
20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(3). A claimant's RFC is
“the most [he or she] can still do despite [physical
and mental] limitations.” Id. § 416.945
(a)(1). Second, the ALJ determines the physical and mental
demands of the claimant's past work. “To make the
necessary findings, the ALJ must obtain adequate
‘factual information about those work demands which
have a bearing on the medically established
limitations.'” Winfrey, 92 F.3d at 1024
(quoting Social Security Ruling 82-62, 1982 WL 31386, at *3
(S.S.A. Jan. 1, 1982)). Third, the ALJ determines whether, in
light of the RFC, the claimant is capable of meeting those
demands. See id. at 1023, 1025.
ALJ concludes that the claimant cannot engage in past
relevant work, he or she proceeds to step five of the
evaluation process. At step five, the burden of proof shifts
to the Commissioner to show that the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy, considering the