United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
STICKNEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lee Kelley (“Plaintiff”) brings this action for
judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's
(“Commissioner”) final decision denying his
claims for a period of disability, disability insurance
benefits, and supplemental security income under Titles II
and XVI 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
alleges that he is disabled due to a variety of ailments,
including depression, anxiety attacks, ruptured disk in his
back, hernia, and pain in his hips, knees, and ankles. Tr.
98-104, ECF No. 11-3. After his application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, a hearing was held on
August 28, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, before Administrative Law
Judge Daniel Curran (the “ALJ”). Tr. 92, ECF No.
11-3. Also present at the hearing was Vocational Expert Ms.
Skinner (the “VE”). Tr. 92, ECF No. 11-3.
Plaintiff was born on January 8, 1962 and was 52 years old at
the time of the August 28, 2014 hearing. Tr. 37, ECF No.
11-3; Tr. 92, ECF No. 11-4. Plaintiff dropped out of high
school in the 12th grade. Tr. 93, ECF No.
11-3. On November 26, 2014, 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 November 18, 2010 through the date
of his decision. Tr. 32 & 39, ECF No. 11-3. The
ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: lumbar degenerative disc disease, disc
herniation, bilateral hernia, torn left groin shin implant,
affective mood disorder, major depressive disorder, and pain
disorder. Tr. 32, ECF No. 11-3. 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. 34, ECF No. 11-3.
determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) for the following: (1) lift,
carry, and push/pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently; (2) sit, stand, and walk for 6 hours in an 8 hour
work day, with no limits on foot controls; (3) occasionally
climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, with no other postural
limitations; (4) have no manipulative, visual, or
communicative restrictions; (5) understand, remember, and
carry out simple instructions; (6) make simple work related
decisions; (7) have no joint decision making or teamwork; (8)
have no more than occasional contact and no direct directions
from the general public; (9) have no individual initiative;
(10) have no close oversight by a supervisor; (11) have no
exposure to unguarded hazards, open nip points, open pits,
unprotected heights, moving machinery, open flames, and open
pools of water; and (12) have no more than occasional
exposure to extremes of temperature, loud noises, smoke, or
other intrusive distractions. Tr. 35, ECF No. 11-3. The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was not able to perform his past
relevant work as a parts clerk (heavy, semiskilled),
salesperson (light, skilled), and maintenance repairer
(medium, skilled), because Plaintiff only had the RFC for
light, unskilled work. Tr. 37, ECF No. 11-3; Tr. 111, ECF No.
11-4. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of
performing the tasks of occupations such as the following:
cleaner housekeeping, photocopy machine operator, and routing
clerk. Tr. 38, ECF No. 11-3; Tr. 114, ECF No. 11-4. Plaintiff
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, and
on April 12, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request. Tr. 5, ECF No. 11-3. Plaintiff then filed his
Complaint in the District Court on July 31, 2016. Compl., ECF
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. ...