United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SCHYDLOWER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Robert Arroyo appeals the denial of his application for
disability insurance benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
The parties consent to my determination of the case under 28
U.S.C. § 636(c) and Appendix C to the Local Court Rules
for the Western District of Texas. I REVERSE and
REMAND the Commissioner's decision denying
Facts and Proceedings
alleges he became disabled on January 15, 2014 because of
depression, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and hearing
problems. An Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing on June 21,
and heard testimony from Arroyo, who was represented by
counsel, and from a vocational expert. In an opinion dated
July 5, 2016, the ALJ determined that Arroyo was not disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act. The Appeals
Council denied his request for review, making the decision of
the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner.
review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to two
inquiries: 1) whether the decision is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole; and 2) whether
the Commissioner applied the proper legal standards.
Perez v. Barnhart, 415 F.3d 457, 461 (5th
Cir. 2005); Masterson v. Barnhart, 309 F.3d 267, 272
(5th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence Ais 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.
evaluating a disability claim, the Commissioner must follow a
five-step sequential process to determine whether: (1) the
claimant is presently working; (2) the claimant has a severe
medically determinable physical or mental impairment; (3) the
claimant's impairment meets or equals an impairment
listed in the appendix to the regulations; (4) the impairment
prevents the claimant from doing past relevant work; and (5)
the claimant can perform other relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520; Boyd v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 698, 704-05
(5th Cir. 2001).
utilize four elements of proof to determine whether there is
substantial evidence of disability: (1) objective medical
facts; (2) diagnoses and opinions of treating and examining
physicians; (3) the claimant's subjective evidence of
pain and disability; and (4) the claimant's age,
education, and work history. Perez, 415 F.3d at 462.
A court cannot, however, reweigh the evidence or try the
issues de novo. Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d
391, 392 (5th Cir. 1985). The Commissioner, not
the courts, must resolve conflicts in the evidence. See
Patton v. Schweiker, 697 F.2d 590, 592 (5th
The ALJ's Findings
case, the ALJ found that Arroyo's severe impairments
include morbid obesity, spinal disorders, degenerative joint
disease in his knee, and depressive and anxiety
disorders.None of Arroyo's impairments, however,
were severe enough to meet or equal an impairment listed in
the appendix to the regulations. The ALJ found that Romero
can still do “sedentary work” with certain
mental and physical limitations. He determined that Arroyo
can no longer perform his old job working on a ship, but
using vocational expert testimony determined that there are
other jobs in the national economy that he can still
Accordingly, he found Arroyo not disabled and not entitled to
disability insurance benefits.
noted that Arroyo has a 100% disability rating from the
Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”), but gave
it “little weight.” In so doing, he found,
[w]hile the disability determinations of other governmental
agencies are entitled to consideration, they are not entitled
to any particular weight in determining disability for Social
Security purposes (Social Security Ruling 06-3p). In this
case, the undersigned notes that the Veterans Affairs'
finding is not based on Agency policy ...