United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REVERSE OR
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff James
Sisneros's Motion to Remand to Agency. Doc. 22.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court will DENY
filed applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income in October 2010. AR 203.
Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of August 25, 2010
due to lower back pain, memory loss, depression, and anxiety.
AR 203-12, 235. Plaintiff's claims were initially denied
in October 2012. AR 26-44. Plaintiff appealed this denial to
the United States District Court for the District of New
Mexico. AR 695-700. While the case was pending before the
district court, the Social Security Administration moved for
a voluntarily remand of the claims. AR 695-700.
remand, the Appeals Council directed the ALJ to evaluate the
medical source opinions and provide an adequate rationale,
further evaluate Plaintiff's mental impairments, evaluate
Plaintiff's maximum residual functional capacity, and
obtain supplemental evidence from a vocational expert, if
necessary. AR 620. On March 18, 2016, the ALJ held a
supplemental hearing. AR 620. The ALJ ultimately found that
jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy
that Plaintiff could perform and accordingly concluded that
Plaintiff is not disabled. Plaintiff now appeals this
determination. Because the parties are familiar with
Plaintiff's medical history, the Court reserves
discussion of the medical records relevant to this appeal for
Disability Determination Process
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
(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).