United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
STICKNEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Linda Sendejas (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social
Security's (“Commissioner”) final decision
denying her claims for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 405(g). For
the following reasons, the final decision of the Commissioner
is REVERSED and REMANDED.
alleges that she is disabled due to a variety of ailments,
including pain in her back, neck, and hands, anxiety,
inability to focus, and fatigue. Tr. 39-40, ECF No. 8-3.
After her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, a hearing was held on September 2, 2015, in
Dallas, Texas, before Administrative Law Judge Donald R.
Davis (the “ALJ”). Tr. 38, ECF No. 8-3. Also
present at the hearing was Vocational Expert Kedra Parker
(the “VE”). Tr. 38, ECF No. 8-3. Plaintiff was
born on October 19, 1959 and was 55 years old at the time of
the September 2, 2015 hearing. Tr. 39, ECF No. 8-3; Tr. 132,
ECF No. 8-6. Plaintiff has a high school education. Tr. 39,
ECF No. 8-3. The VE testified that Plaintiff's
past relevant work as a loan administrator is a sedentary,
skilled job. Tr. 49-50, ECF No. 8-3. On November 12,
2015, the ALJ issued his decision finding that Plaintiff has
not been under a disability within the meaning of the Social
Security Act from the alleged onset date of February 11, 2014
through the date of his decision. Tr. 14 & 27, ECF No.
8-3. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: Sjogren's syndrome, anemia,
arthritis, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia syndrome,
GERD, obesity, hypertension, ischemic heart disease,
depression, and anxiety disorder. Tr. 14, ECF No.
8-3. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have
an impairment or a combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Tr.
19, ECF No. 8-3. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
sit for up to six hours and stand or walk for up to six hours
in an eight-hour work day. Tr. 21, ECF No. 8-3. The ALJ also
determined that Plaintiff could lift ten pounds frequently
and twenty pounds occasionally. Tr. 21, ECF No. 8-3. The ALJ
further determined that Plaintiff could handle and finger
frequently, that Plaintiff could work for 2-hour intervals
between breaks, but that Plaintiff should not engage in fast
pace, assembly line work. Tr. 21, ECF No. 8-3. The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing her past
relevant work as a loan administrator/collateral specialist,
DOT code 241.137-010, because this work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by
Plaintiff's RFC. Tr. 26, ECF No. 8-3.
claimant must prove that she is disabled for purposes of the
Social Security Act to be entitled to social security
benefits. Leggett v. Chater, 67 F.3d 558, 563-64
(5th Cir. 1995); Abshire v. Bowen, 848 F.2d 638, 640
(5th Cir. 1988). The definition of disability under the Act
is “the inability 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); Anthony v. Sullivan, 954 F.2d 289, 292
(5th Cir. 1992).
Commissioner utilizes a sequential five-step inquiry to
determine whether a claimant is disabled. Those steps are
(1) an individual who is working and engaging in substantial
gainful activity will not be found disabled regardless of
(2) an individual who does not have a “severe
impairment” will not be found to be disabled;
(3) an individual who meets or equals a listed impairment in
Appendix 1 of the regulations will be considered disabled
without consideration of vocational factors;
(4) if an individual is capable of performing the work the
individual has done in the past, a finding of “not
disabled” will be made; and
(5) if an individual's impairment precludes the
individual from performing the work the individual has done
in the past, other factors including age, education, past
work experience, and residual functional capacity must be
considered to determine if other work can be performed.
Greenspan v. Shalala, 38 F.3d 232, 236 (5th Cir.
1994) (citing Villa v. Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1019, 1022
(5th Cir. 1990); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b)-(f)). The
burden of proof lies with the claimant to prove disability
under the first four steps of the five-step inquiry.
Leggett, 67 F.3d at 564. The burden of proof shifts
to the Commissioner at step five of the inquiry to prove that
other work, aside from the claimant's past work, can be
performed by the claimant. Bowling v. Shalala, 36
F.3d 431, 435 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing Anderson v.
Sullivan, 887 F.2d 630, 632-33 (5th Cir. 1989)).
Commissioner's determination is afforded great deference.
Leggett, 67 F.3d at 564. Judicial review of the
Commissioner's findings is limited to whether the
decision to deny benefits is supported by substantial
evidence and to whether the proper legal standards were
utilized. Greenspan, 38 F.3d at 236 (citing 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3)). An “ALJ's
decision is not subject to reversal, even if there is
substantial evidence in the record that would have supported
the opposite conclusion, so long as substantial evidence
supports the conclusion that was reached by the ALJ.”
Corpany v. Colvin, No. 4:12-CV-878-A, 2014 WL
1255316, at *9 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 26, 2014) (citing Dollins
v. Astrue, No. 4:08-CV-503-A, 2009 WL 1542466, at *5
(N.D. Tex. June 2, 2009)). Substantial evidence is defined as
“that which is relevant and sufficient for a reasonable
mind to accept as adequate to support a conclusion; it must
be more than a scintilla, but it need not be a
preponderance.” Legge ...