United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
T. BERTON 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 application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court orders that the Commissioner's decision be
REVERSED and REMANDED for
further proceedings consistent with this Memorandum Opinion
August 15, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB,
alleging a disability onset date of December 13, 2013. (R.
120-121). Her applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. (R. 63, 69-77). Plaintiff then filed a
request for a hearing, which was held on April 5, 2016. (R.
16-24, 78). The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
issued a decision on May 24, 2016, denying benefits. (R.
16-24). Subsequently, the Appeals Council denied review. (R.
1-4). Therefore, the ALJ's decision stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner.
presents the following issues for review:
1. Whether the ALJ erred by failing to analyze the opinion
evidence in accordance with the regulations, Agency policy,
and Fifth Circuit precedent.
2. Whether, despite acknowledging Plaintiff's
“excellent” employment history, the ALJ failed to
adequately consider this history in making a credibility
(ECF. No. 11, p. 4).
argues that the ALJ erred in giving little weight to the
January 5, 2015 opinion of Dr. Michael J. Mrochek, M.D.
(Id. at 4-15). Specifically, Plaintiff argues that
Dr. Mrochek's opinion is entitled to great weight as: (1)
he was Plaintiff's treating physician; (2) he was a
specialist who opined based on an actual examination; (3) he
was the only physician of record to opine after conducting an
actual examination; and (4) Dr. Mrochek's opinions were
not “internally inconsistent” and consistent with
the record generally. (Id. at 8-15). Plaintiff
further argues that the ALJ impermissibly relied on his lay
analysis of raw medical data by rejecting the opinion of Dr.
Mrochek and not further developing the record.
(Id.). Plaintiff lastly argues that the ALJ failed
to consider Plaintiff's strong work history in
determining her credibility. (Id. at 17-21).
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) (citations omitted);
Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173 (5th Cir. 1995)
(citation omitted). “Substantial evidence ‘is
more than a mere scintilla, and less than a
preponderance.'” Masterson, 309 F.3d at
272 (citation omitted). The Commissioner's findings will
be upheld if supported by substantial evidence. Id.
(citation omitted). A finding of no substantial evidence will
be made only where ...