United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
C. YARBROUGH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on the Social Security
Administrative Record (Doc. 13) filed January 2, 2018, in
support of Plaintiff Robert Ernie Roble's
(“Plaintiff”) Complaint (Doc. 1) seeking review
of the decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,
(“Defendant” or “Commissioner”)
partially granting Plaintiff's claims for Title II
disability insurance benefits and Title XVI supplemental
security income. On March 28, 2018, Plaintiff filed his
Motion to Reverse and Remand for Rehearing With Supporting
Memorandum (“Motion”). Doc. 20. The Commissioner
filed a Response in opposition on May 23, 2018 (Doc. 22), and
Plaintiff filed a Reply on June 11, 2018. Doc. 23. The Court
has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final
decision under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c).
Having meticulously reviewed the entire record and the
applicable law and being fully advised in the premises, the
Court finds the Motion is well taken and is
Background and Procedural Record
Robert Ernie Roble (“Mr. Roble”) alleges that he
became disabled on June 22, 2011, at the age of forty-eight
because of post-traumatic stress syndrome and kidney stones.
Tr. 255, 259. Mr. Roble has four or more years of
college, and was self-employed in maintenance and pest
control. Tr. 260, 276-85.
December 19, 2012, Mr. Roble filed an application for Social
Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. Tr.
230-31. On June 3, 2013, he filed an application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. Tr.
232-37. Mr. Roble's applications were initially denied on
September 23, 2013. Tr. 97, 98, 99-115, 116-133, 163-66,
167-70. They were denied again at reconsideration on May 30,
2014. Tr. 134, 135, 136-47, 148-58, 173-75, 176-79. Mr. Roble
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), and ALJ Lillian Richter conducted a
hearing on January 28, 2016. Tr. 44-96. Mr. Roble appeared in
person at the hearing with attorney representative Michael
Armstrong. Id. The ALJ took testimony from Mr.
Roble, Geraldine Roble, and an impartial vocational expert
(“VE”), Karen Provine. Id. On March 24,
2016, ALJ Richter issued a partially favorable decision. Tr.
15, 2017, the Appeals Council issued its decision denying Mr.
Roble's request for review and upholding the ALJ's
final decision. Tr. 1-5. On September 1, 2017, Mr. Roble
timely filed a Complaint seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision. Doc. 1.
Disability Determination Process
individual is considered disabled if he 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) (pertaining
to disability insurance benefits); see also 42
U.S.C. § 1382(a)(3)(A) (pertaining to supplemental
security income disability benefits for adult individuals).
The Social Security Commissioner has adopted the familiar
five-step sequential analysis to determine whether a person
satisfies the statutory criteria as follows:
(1) At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant
is engaged in “substantial gainful
activity.” If the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity, he is not disabled regardless of his
(2) At step two, the ALJ must determine the severity of the
claimed physical or mental impairment(s). If the claimant
does not have an impairment(s) or combination of impairments
that is severe and meets the duration requirement, he is not
(3) At step three, the ALJ must determine whether a
claimant's impairment(s) meets or equals in severity one
of the listings described in Appendix 1 of the regulations
and meets the duration requirement. If so, a claimant is
(4) If, however, the claimant's impairments do not meet
or equal in severity one of the listing described in Appendix
1 of the regulations, the ALJ must determine at step four
whether the claimant can perform his “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 [his physical and mental]
limitations.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(1),
416.945(a)(1). This is called the claimant's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”). Id.
§§ 404.1545(a)(3), 416.945(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, the claimant is capable of meeting those
demands. A claimant who is capable of returning to past
relevant work is not disabled.
(5) If the claimant does not have the RFC to perform his past
relevant work, the Commissioner, at step five, must show that
the claimant is able to perform other work in the national
economy, considering the claimant's RFC, age, education,
and work experience. If the Commissioner is unable to make
that showing, the 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. § 404.1520(a)(4) (disability
insurance benefits); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)
(supplemental security income disability benefits);
Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th
Cir. 2005); Grogan v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 1257, 1261
(10th Cir. 2005). The claimant has the initial
burden of establishing a disability in the first four steps
of this analysis. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137,
146, n.5, 107 S.Ct. 2287, 2294, n. 5, 96 L.Ed.2d 119 (1987).
The burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five to show
that the claimant is capable of performing work in the
national economy. Id. A finding that the claimant is
disabled or not disabled at any point in the five-step review
is conclusive and terminates the analysis. Casias v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Serv., 933 F.2d
799, 801 (10th Cir. 1991).
Standard of Review
Court must affirm the Commissioner's denial of social
security benefits unless (1) the decision is not supported by
“substantial evidence” or (2) the ALJ did not
apply the proper legal standards in reaching the decision. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); Hamlin v. Barnhart, 365 F.3d
1208, 1214 (10th Cir. 2004); Langley v.
Barnhart, 373 F.3d 1116, 1118 (10th Cir.
2004); Casias, 933 F.2d at 800-01. In making these
determinations, the Court “neither reweigh[s] the
evidence nor substitute[s] [its] judgment for that of the
agency.'” Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270,
1272 (10th Cir. 2008). A decision is based on substantial
evidence where it is supported by “relevant evidence .
. . a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Langley, 373 F.3d at 1118. A
decision “is not based on substantial evidence if it is
overwhelmed by other evidence in the record[, ]”
Langley, 373 F.3d at 1118, or “constitutes
mere conclusion.” Musgrave v. Sullivan, 966
F.2d 1371, 1374 (10th Cir. 1992). The agency
decision must “provide this court with a sufficient
basis to determine that appropriate legal principles have
been followed.” Jensen v. Barnhart, 436 F.3d
1163, 1165 (10th Cir. 2005). Therefore, although
an ALJ is not required to discuss every piece of evidence,
“the record must demonstrate that the ALJ considered
all of the evidence, ” and “the [ALJ's]
reasons for finding a claimant not disabled” must be
“articulated with sufficient particularity.”
Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009-10
(10th Cir. 1996).
determined that Mr. Roble was not disabled prior to August
30, 2013, but became disabled on that date and has continued
to be disabled through the date of her decision. Tr. 24. In
making this determination, the ALJ found at step one that Mr.
Roble met the insured status requirements through March 31,
2012, and that he had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since his alleged onset date. Tr. 26. At step two,
the ALJ found that since his alleged onset date, Mr. Roble
had severe impairments of mood disorder, major depressive
disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, traumatic
brain injury, and rule out cognitive disorder. Tr. 26. She
also found nonsevere impairments of obesity, cataract,
hypertension, and alcohol use disorder. Tr. 27. The ALJ,
however, determined that Mr. Roble's impairments did not
meet or equal in severity one the listings described in
Appendix 1 of the regulations. Tr. ...