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Enriquez v. Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division

May 18, 2018

EVA LICON ENRIQUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
Acting Commissioner of Social[1] Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT F. CASTANEDA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is 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 of Texas.

         Plaintiff appeals from the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act. For the reasons set forth below, this Court orders that the Commissioner's decision be AFFIRMED.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 15, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of November 16, 2013. (R:120)[2] Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (R:51, 61) Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing, which was conducted on August 11, 2016. (R:25-42) The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued a decision on September 28, 2016, denying benefits. (R: 10-20) The Appeals Council ("AC") denied review. (R:1-4)

         ISSUE

         Plaintiff presents the following issue for review:

         1. Whether the ALJ erroneously found that Plaintiffs fibromyalgia was non-severe. (Doc. 17:2)

         Plaintiff contends that not only did the ALJ err in finding that Plaintiff s fibromyalgia is non-severe but also that such error is prejudicial. (Doc. 17:2-6) Consequently, Plaintiff seeks a reversal and remand for an award of benefits or for further administrative proceedings. (Doc. 17:6) Defendant responds that the ALJ used the proper legal standards; alternatively, she contends that if any error took place, it is harmless, and that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's findings and conclusions. (Doc. 18:4-9)

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         This 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); Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173 (5th Cir. 1995). Substantial evidence "is 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. Id. A finding of no substantial evidence will be made only where there is a conspicuous absence of credible choices or no contrary medical evidence. Abshire v. Bowen, 848 F.2d 638, 640 (5th Cir. 1988).

         In applying the substantial evidence standard, the court may not reweigh the evidence, try the issues de novo, or substitute its own judgment for the Commissioner's, even if it believes the evidence weighs against the Commissioner's decision. Masterson, 309 F.3d at 272. Conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner and not the courts to resolve. Id.; Spellman v. Shalala, 1 F.3d 357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993).

         II. ...


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