United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
REBECCA RUTHERFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Newman Phillips brings this action for judicial review of the
final decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying
his claim for supplemental security income under Title 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 AFFIRMED.
filed his initial claim on June 24, 2013 alleging that he was
disabled due to a variety of ailments, including, diabetes,
hypertension, kidney disease, depression, arthritis, and
stomach pains. Tr. 58 [ECF No. 14-4]. After Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, a
hearing was held on April 9, 2015, in Dallas, Texas, before
Administrative Law Judge Ann H. Pate (the “ALJ”).
Tr. 32 [ECF No. 14-3]. Plaintiff was born on February 16,
1980 and was 35 years old at the time of the April 9, 2015
hearing. Tr. 32, 58. Plaintiff attended high school through
the tenth grade. Tr. 36 [ECF No. 14-3]. On July 28, 2015, the
ALJ issued her decision finding that Plaintiff has not been
under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security
Act from June 24, 2013, the date Plaintiff's application
was filed, through the date of her decision. Tr. 24 [ECF No.
14-3]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: spine disorder, diabetes mellitus, and
affective disorder. Tr. 17 [ECF No. 14-3]. The ALJ
also 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. 18 [ECF No. 14-3].
the hearing, the ALJ sought the advice of a Vocational Expert
(“VE”) as to whether jobs exist in the national
economy for an individual with Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”), because Plaintiff's ability to
perform all or substantially all of the requirements of light
work has been impeded by additional limitations. Tr. 24 [ECF
No. 14-3]. The VE testified that an individual with
Plaintiff's characteristics could perform the tasks of
the following light, unskilled occupations: (1) laundry
inspector; (2) belt inspector; and (3) food inspector. Tr.
24. Given this testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
was able to make a successful adjustment to work that exists
in significant numbers in the national economy. Tr. 24.
Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals
Council, and on December 16, 2016, the Appeals Council
affirmed the ALJ's decision. Tr. 1 [ECF No. 14-3].
Plaintiff filed this pro se action in the federal
district court on January 3, 2017. Compl. [ECF No. 1].
claimant must prove that he 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. ...