Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pope v. Saul

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

October 31, 2019

LISA ANN POPE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER [2]

          STEVEN C. YARBROUGH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Social Security Administrative Record filed January 7, 2019, Doc. 16, in support of Plaintiff Lisa Ann Pope's Complaint, Doc. 1, seeking review of the decision of Defendant Andrew Saul, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, denying Plaintiff's claim for disability insurance benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. On May 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed her Motion to Reverse and Remand To Agency for Rehearing, With Supporting Memorandum. Doc. 27. The Commissioner filed a Brief in Response on July 31, 2019. Doc. 29. Plaintiff filed her Reply on August 6, 2019. Doc. 30. 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 GRANTED.

         Background and Procedural Record

         Plaintiff Lisa Ann Pope alleges that she became disabled on October 1, 2014 because of foot surgery, depression, and stress seizures. Doc. 27 at 3; Administrative Record (“AR”) at 280. Ms. Pope attended one year of college and completed specialized training to be a medical assistant. AR 281. She has past relevant work as a home attendant/home health aide. AR 78-79.

         On January 16, 2015, Ms. Pope filed a claim of disability under Titles II and XVI. AR 86. Her applications were initially denied on August 19, 2015, AR 86-87, and upon reconsideration on February 11, 2016, AR 112-13. Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Lillian Richter conducted a hearing on April 26, 2017. AR 36. Ms. Pope appeared in person at the hearing with attorney representative Nichols Stiver. Id. The ALJ took testimony from Ms. Pope, her sister Jessica Baca, and an impartial vocational expert (“VE”), Thomas G. Mongall, III. AR 36, 363.

         On October 10, 2017, ALJ Richter issued an unfavorable decision. AR 11. The Appeals Council denied review on July 15, 2018. AR 1. The ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review. Ms. Pope proceeded to federal court on September 14, 2018. Doc. 1.

         Applicable Law

         A. Disability Determination Process

         An 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 as follows:

(1) At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is engaged in “substantial gainful activity.”[3] If the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, she is not disabled regardless of her medical condition.
(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 disabled.
(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 presumed disabled.
(4) If, however, the claimant's impairments do not meet or equal in severity one of the listings 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 [her 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, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.