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Boykins v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

March 27, 2018

WILLIE BOYKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          REBECCA RUTHERFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Willie Boykins brings this action for judicial review of the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”) denying his claims for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income under Titles II and 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 REVERSED, and this case is REMANDED for proceedings consistent with this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 26, 2013, Plaintiff filed his initial claim alleging that he is disabled due to a heart attack. Tr. 118 [ECF No. 13-5]. After his application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, a hearing was held on June 23, 2015, in Dallas, Texas, before Administrative Law Judge Donald R. Davis (the “ALJ”). Tr. 95 [ECF No. 13-4]. Plaintiff was born on April 2, 1955 and was 60 years old at the time of the June 23, 2015 hearing. Tr. 95 & 118. Plaintiff has past work experience as a security guard. Tr. 285 [ECF No. 13-8]. On August 11, 2015, the ALJ issued his decision finding that Plaintiff has not been under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act from his alleged onset date of March 31, 2013 through the date of the ALJ's decision. Tr. 87 [ECF No. 13-3].

         The ALJ stated that he agreed with the Disability Determination Services c0nsultants 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. 79 [ECF No. 13-3]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) for the following: (1) lift or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; (2) stand or walk for 6 hours in an 8 hour workday; (3) sit for 6 hours in an 8 hour workday; (4) attend and concentrate for 2 hour periods; (5) respond appropriately to change in routine work settings; and (6) not engage in fast pace, assembly line work. Tr. 81 [ECF No. 13-3]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was able to perform his past relevant work as a security guard, because this work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by Plaintiff's RFC. Tr. 87 [ECF No. 13-3]. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, and on January 9, 2017, the Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision. Tr. 1 [ECF No. 13-3]. Plaintiff filed this action in the District Court on February 28, 2017. Compl. [ECF No. 1].

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         A 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).

         The Commissioner utilizes a sequential five-step inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled. Those steps are that:

(1) an individual who is working and engaging in substantial gainful activity will not be found disabled regardless of medical findings;
(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. ...


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