United States District Court, D. New Mexico
JESUS A. GARCIA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION TO REMAND
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Jesus
Garcia's Motion to Reverse and Remand the Social Security
Commissioner's final decision denying Plaintiff a period
of disability and disability insurance benefits. Doc. 20. The
Court concludes that the ALJ did not error in her Step 5
findings and, therefore, will DENY Plaintiff's motion.
filed a Title II application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on June 13, 2013.
Administrative Record (“AR”) 520. He alleged a
disability onset date of February 7, 2012. Id. After
his claim was denied on initial review and upon
reconsideration, her case was set for a hearing in front of
an ALJ on March 10, 2015. Id. Plaintiff appeared in
person at the hearing with his attorney. Id. The ALJ
took testimony from Plaintiff and from an impartial
Vocational Expert (“VE”), Sandra Fioretti.
Id.; see also AR 533-559.
April 23, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision finding
that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the
Social Security Act. AR 520-28. In arriving at her decision,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since February 7, 2012, his
alleged onset date. AR 522. The ALJ then found that Plaintiff
suffered from the following severe impairments: (1) spinal
disorder including thoracic and lumbar spine strain sprain;
(2) disorder of the left shoulder including rotator cuff
tear, labrum fraying, and acromioclavicular arthritis; (3)
disorder of the right hip; (4) osteoarthritis and probable
right sacroiliac joint sprain; (5) diabetes; (6) high blood
pressure; and (7) obesity. AR 522. The ALJ found that these
impairments, individually or in combination, did not meet or
medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. AR 523.
she found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet a
Listing, the ALJ then went on to assess Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”). AR 523-27.
The ALJ stated that
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
a range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b).
Specifically, the claimant can lift/carry 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; push/pull within the
same weight limitations; stand/walk for four hours out of an
eight hour workday, with no prolonged standing and walking
greater than 30 minutes at a time; and sit for six hours out
of an eight hour workday with the ability to stand and
stretch not to exceed 10 percent of the day, in addition to
normal breaks and lunches. The claimant is precluded from
repetitive pushing, pulling, and lifting with the left upper
extremity and right lower extremity; repetitive foot pedals
with the right lower extremity; repetitive bending or
stooping; running; jumping; ladders, ropes, and scaffolds;
repetitive twisting; crawling; squatting; repetitive stair
climbing; and work above or at shoulder level with the right
upper extremity. Additionally, the claimant is limited to
non-complex tasks because of pain and medication side
The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had no past relevant work.
AR 526. Based on the VE's Fioretti's testimony, the
ALJ then determined at step five that considering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and her RFC,
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that she can perform. AR 527-28.
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Social Security
Appeals Council. AR 1-6. The Appeals Council ultimately
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. This
appeal followed. Doc.19.
Disability Determination Process
claimant is considered disabled for purposes of Social
Security disability insurance benefits or supplemental
security income 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); see
also 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(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, 416.920. 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