United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
REBECCA RUTHERFORD, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jamie Thomas brings this action for judicial review of the
final decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration denying her claim for 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 this case is REMANDED for proceedings
consistent with this Memorandum Opinion and Order.
17, 2014, Plaintiff filed her initial claim alleging that she
is disabled due to Crohn's disease, bipolar II disorder,
and panic disorder with agoraphobia. Tr. 80 [ECF No. 11-4 at
2]. After her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, a hearing was held on May 17, 2016, in
Dallas, Texas, before Administrative Law Judge Kevin Batik
(the “ALJ”). Tr. 32 [ECF No. 11-3]. Plaintiff was
born on April 8, 1956 and was 60 years old at the time of the
hearing. Tr. 32 & 80. Plaintiff graduated high school and
attended college for two years. Tr. 240 [ECF No. 11-7].
Plaintiff has past work experience as a billing collection
representative. Tr. 21 [ECF No. 11-3]. On July 12, 2016, the
ALJ issued his decision finding that Plaintiff has not been
under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act,
from her alleged onset date of March 7, 2014 through the date
of his decision. Tr. 21 [ECF No. 11-3].
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: bipolar disorder, degenerative disc disease of
the lumbar and cervical spine, degenerative joint disease of
the shoulder, and diabetes mellitus. Tr. 15 [ECF No. 11-3].
The ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment
or a combination of impairments that met or medically equaled
the severity of one of the listed impairments in Title 20,
Code of Federal Regulations, Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
Tr. 17 [ECF No. 11-3]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work as defined in Title 20, Code of Federal
Regulations, Section 404.1567(b). Tr. 18 [ECF No. 11-3].
determined that Plaintiff: (1) could occasionally climb ramps
and stairs; (2) could occasionally balance, kneel, crouch,
and reach overhead with the dominant upper extremity; (3) was
precluded from crawling or using ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; (4) could understand, remember, and carry out
detailed, but not complex tasks and instructions; (5) was
able to respond to changes in a routine work setting; and (6)
could have occasional interactions with coworkers,
supervisors, and the public. Tr. 18. The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as a
billing collection representative, because this work does not
require the performance of work-related activities precluded
by Plaintiff's RFC. Tr. 21 [ECF No. 11-3].
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, and
on October 20, 2016, the Appeals Council affirmed the
ALJ's decision. Tr. 2 [ECF No. 11-3]. Plaintiff filed
this action in the federal district court on December 19,
2016. Compl. [ECF No. 1].
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