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Martinez v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 27, 2018

LAWRENCE R. MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REVERSE OR REMAND

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Lawrence Martinez's Motion to Remand to Agency for Rehearing. Doc. 16. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff's motion and remand this action to the Commissioner for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Background

         On February 5, 2013, Plaintiff protectively filed a Title II application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits and a Title XVI application for supplemental security income. AR 17. Plaintiff claimed disability due to a learning disability. AR 77. Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of July 1, 2006. AR 77. Plaintiff's claims were initially denied on June 10, 2013, and upon reconsideration on September 24, 2013. AR 17. Plaintiff thereafter filed a written request for a hearing on November 12, 2013. AR 17. On July 1, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. AR 29. On October 3, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR 1. This appeal followed.

         Because the parties are familiar with the record in this case, the Court will reserve discussion of Plaintiff's relevant medical history for its analysis.

         II. Applicable Law

         A. Disability Determination Process

         A claimant is considered disabled for purposes of Social Security disability insurance benefits if that individual 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). The Social Security Commissioner has adopted a five-step sequential analysis to determine whether a person satisfies these statutory criteria. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The steps of the analysis are as follows:

(1) Claimant must establish that she is not currently engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” If claimant is so engaged, she is not disabled and the analysis stops.
(2) Claimant must establish that she has “a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment . . . or combination of impairments” that has lasted for at least one year. If claimant is not so impaired, she is not disabled and the analysis stops.
(3) If claimant can establish that her impairment(s) are equivalent to a listed impairment that has already been determined to preclude substantial gainful activity, claimant is presumed disabled and the analysis stops.
(4) If, however, claimant's impairment(s) are not equivalent to a listed impairment, claimant must establish that the impairment(s) prevent her from doing her “past relevant work.” Answering this question involves three phases. Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017, 1023 (10th Cir. 1996). First, the ALJ considers all of the relevant medical and other evidence and determines what is “the most [claimant] can still do despite [her physical and mental] limitations.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1). This is called the claimant's residual functional capacity (“RFC”). Id. § 404.1545(a)(3). Second, the ALJ determines the physical and mental demands of claimant's past work. Third, the ALJ determines whether, given claimant's RFC, claimant is capable of meeting those demands. A claimant who is capable of returning to past relevant work is not disabled and the analysis stops.
(5) At this point, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that claimant is able to “make an adjustment to other work.” If the Commissioner is unable to make that showing, claimant is deemed disabled. If, however, the Commissioner is able to make the required showing, the claimant is deemed not disabled.

See 20 C.F.R. § 1520(a)(4); Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005).

         B. ...


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