United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTER is before the Court on a series of motions. Mr. James
Alford (Plaintiff), who is proceeding pro se, filed this
action to appeal the Appeals Council's decision granting
his 2015 applications for disability insurance benefits (DBI)
and supplemental security income (SSI). See Doc. 57.
Plaintiff has also moved for other miscellaneous relief. See
Docs. 57; 59; 60; 71; 72. The Commissioner opposes
Plaintiff's requests. See Doc. 65.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73(b), the
parties have consented to me serving as the presiding judge
and entering final judgment. See Docs. 4, 11, 12.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny
Plaintiff's motions and dismiss this action with
2015, Plaintiff filed applications for DBI under Title II of
the Social Security Act (SSA), and for SSI under Title XVI of
the SSA. Administrative Record (AR) at 104-18. In both of his
applications, Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of
June 1, 2015. AR at 104, 112. The State agency approved the
SSI claim with an established onset date of September 30,
2015, but denied the DBI claim on the basis that there was no
evidence Plaintiff became disabled before his date last
insured, which was then listed as March 31, 2014. AR at 8.
filed a request for review of this decision. See AR at 64-69.
At some point, the Agency received evidence that
Plaintiff's date last insured was March 31, 2017, rather
than 2014. AR at 8. Plaintiff then received a fully favorable
decision, as the Appeals Council allowed Plaintiff's DBI
claim in addition to his SSI claim and found that Plaintiff
“is disabled under the framework of Medical-Vocational
Rule 202.06, beginning on June 1, 2015 . . . .” AR at
then filed his Motion to Reverse and/or Remand the
Commissioner's decision, and asks the Court to amend his
disability onset date and to increase the amount of his
benefits award. See Doc. 57.
Court must “review the Commissioner's decision to
determine whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record and whether the correct
legal standards were applied.” Lax v. Astrue,
489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hackett v.
Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1168, 1172 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal
citation omitted)). A deficiency in either area is grounds
for remand. Keyes-Zachary v. Astrue, 695 F.3d 1156,
1161, 1166 (10th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).
“Substantial evidence is ‘such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Lax, 489 F.3d at 1084
(quoting Hackett, 395 F.3d at 1172 (internal
quotation omitted)). “It requires more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Id.
(quoting Zoltanski v. F.A.A., 372 F.3d 1195, 1200
(10th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation omitted)).
Court construes the pro se Plaintiff's pleadings
liberally and holds him “to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Garrett
v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840
(10th Cir. 2005) (citing Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d
1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991) (internal citation omitted)). The
Court may not, however, “serv[e] as the litigant's
attorney in constructing arguments and searching the
record.” Id. (citation omitted).
The Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse or
seeks reversal of his favorable decision and argues that the
Appeals Council erred in accepting the disability onset date
he alleged in his applications. See Doc. 57 at 3. Plaintiff
also asks the Court to increase the amount of his award, but
he does not allege that the Commissioner erred in calculating
his award. See Id. The Commissioner argues that the
Court should affirm the Commissioner's decision both
because the Commissioner used the onset date Plaintiff
alleged in his applications, and because the decision is
supported by substantial evidence. See Doc. 65 at 2-9.
Moreover, the Commissioner argues Plaintiff would not be
entitled to an earlier onset date, as he engaged in
substantial gainful activity (SGA) from 2013 through 2015.
Id. at 6-7. The Court finds it appropriate to deny
Plaintiff's motion and dismiss this matter on two
grounds: first, Plaintiff's claim fails on the merits;
second, Plaintiff does not have statutory standing to bring
The Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
asks the Court to amend his disability onset date.
“Social Security Ruling 83-20 defines the onset date as
‘the first day an individual is disabled as defined in
the Act and the regulations.'” Ray v.
Apfel, No. 99-7081, 2000 WL 342493, at *1-2 (10th Cir.
Apr. 3, 2000) (quoting Reid v. Chater, 71 F.3d 372,
373 (10th Cir.1995) (quoting SSR 83-20, 1983 WL 31249, at *3
(Jan. 1, 1983))). “Factors relevant to the
determination are the claimant's allegation of an onset
date, his work history, and the medical evidence, with
medical evidence being the primary element in determining
onset date.” Id. at *2 (quoting Reid,
71 F.3d at 373). “[T]he date alleged by the individual
should be used if it is consistent with all the evidence
available. . . . However, the established onset date must be
fixed based on the facts and can never be inconsistent with
the medical evidence of record.” Id. (quoting
SSR 83-20, 1983 WL 31249, at *3).
it was Plaintiff himself who originally alleged the June 1,
2015 disability onset date in his 2015 applications.
See AR at 104, 112. Plaintiff does not argue that
his choice to list June 1, 2015, as his disability onset date
in his DBI and SSI applications was the result of confusion,
coercion, or typographical error. Only now, after a fully
favorable decision, does ...