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 September 4, 2018, in
support of Plaintiff Mary Ann Olguin'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”),
denying Plaintiff's claim for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. On
November 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Motion to Reverse and
Remand for a Rehearing With Supporting Memorandum
(“Motion”). Doc. 18. The Commissioner filed a
Brief in Response on January 23, 2019 (Doc. 22), and
Plaintiff filed a Reply on February 12, 2019. 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
Mary Ann Olguin (Ms. Olguin) alleges that she became disabled
on October 31, 2013, at the age of fifty-two because of
“extreme post traumatic stress syndrome”;
“extreme depression”; “thought process is
extremely confused”; “no concentration”;
“cannot meet deadlines due to confusion”;
“right hand is deteriorating due to laceration of ulnar
[nerve]”; “arthritis in hand and shoulder due to
overcompensation”; “possibly had small stroke
when working with [the City of Albuquerque]”;
“problems breathing”; and “have had
injuries to disk in neck and back.” Tr. 214, 218 (some
capitalization removed). Ms. Olguin completed a GED in 1977
and worked as a general construction inspector for the City
of Albuquerque. Tr. 220. Ms. Olguin's date of last
insured is June 30, 2019. Tr. 214.
1, 2016, Ms. Olguin 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. Her application was denied
at the initial level (Tr. 78, 79-92, 108-111), and at
reconsideration (Tr. 93, 95-107, 116-119). Upon Ms.
Olguin's request, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Cole
Gerstner held a hearing on December 28, 2017. Tr. 35-76. Ms.
Olguin appeared at the hearing with attorney representative
Feliz Martone. Id. The ALJ took testimony from
Ms. Olguin and from impartial vocational expert (VE) Molly
Meloy Kellv. Id. On January 30, 2018, ALJ Gerstner
issued a written decision concluding that Ms. Olguin was
“not disabled” pursuant to the Act. Tr. 15-29. On
April 3, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Ms. Olguin's
request for review, rendering ALJ Gerstner's April 3,
2018 decision the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration. Tr. 1-5. Ms. Olguin timely
filed a complaint on May 23, 2018, seeking judicial review of
the Commissioner's final decision. Doc. 1.
Disability Determination Process
individual is considered disabled if she 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 Id.
§ 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 evaluation process (“SEP”) to
determine whether a person satisfies the statutory criteria
(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, she is not disabled regardless of her
(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, she 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 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 [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 her 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).
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 (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.