United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
F. CASTANEDA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a civil action seeking judicial review of an administrative
decision. Jurisdiction is predicated upon 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). Both parties having consented to trial on the merits
before a United States Magistrate Judge, the case was
transferred to this Court for trial and entry of judgment
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and Rule CV-72 and
Appendix C to the Local Court Rules for the Western District
appeals from the decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying
her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act. For the reasons set forth below, this Court
orders that the Commissioner's decision be AFFIRMED.
August 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and
SSI, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2013.
(R:208-225, 256, 269). Her applications were denied initially and
on reconsideration. (R:75, 92, 109, 127). Plaintiff filed a
request for a hearing, which was conducted on September 22,
2015. (R:32-74). The Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) issued a decision on December 11, 2015,
denying benefits. (R:12-25). The Appeals Council denied
presents the following issues for review:
1. Whether the ALJ's step five determination-that there
are other jobs that exist in substantial numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff can perform-is supported by
2. Whether the ALJ failed to properly weigh the opinion of
Plaintiff's treating physician.
3. Whether the ALJ erred in failing to perform a detailed
analysis of the treating physician's opinion under the
criteria set forth in 20 C.F.R. §
contends that the ALJ failed to fully address Plaintiff's
mental impairment limitations. (Doc.17:4). In this
connection, she urges that the ALJ improperly rejected the
mental limitations, which are made evident by multiple global
assessment of functioning (“GAF”) scores.
(Doc.17:6). Hence, she concludes, the ALJ's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) finding does not
contain all of Plaintiff's limitations from her
impairments, and his disability decision is not supported by
substantial evidence. (Doc.17:8). She also argues that the
ALJ failed to give the opinion of Dr. Vanderpool,
Plaintiff's treating physician, the proper weight
required by law. (Doc.17:8-14). She further contends that the
ALJ committed reversible error by not applying the criteria
set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2) in evaluating
Dr. Vanderpool's medical opinions. (Doc.17:9, 10).
Consequently, Plaintiff seeks a reversal and remand for an
award of benefits or for further administrative proceedings.
(Doc.17:14). Defendant contends that substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's findings and conclusions, that the
proper legal standards were utilized, and that the
Commissioner's final administrative decision should be
affirmed because no error was committed. (Doc.18).
Standard of Review
Court's review is limited to a determination of whether
the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, and whether the Commissioner applied the proper
legal standards in evaluating the evidence. See 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); Masterson v. Barnhart, 309
F.3d 267, 272 (5th Cir. 2002); Martinez v. Chater,
64 F.3d 172, 173 (5th Cir. 1995). Substantial evidence
“is more than a mere scintilla, and less than a
preponderance.” Masterson, 309 F.3d at 272.
The Commissioner's findings will be upheld if supported
by substantial evidence. Id. A finding of no
substantial evidence will be made only where there is a
conspicuous absence of credible choices or no contrary
medical evidence. Abshire v. Bowen, 848 F.2d 638,
640 (5th Cir. 1988).
applying the substantial evidence standard, the court may not
reweigh the evidence, try the issues de novo, or
substitute its own judgment for the Commissioner's, even
if it believes the evidence weighs against the
Commissioner's decision. Masterson, 309 F.3d at
272. Conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner ...