United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
HARRIS TOLIVER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the parties' consent, Doc.
12, the Court now considers the parties' cross-motions
for summary judgment. Doc. 16; Doc. 18. Upon consideration of
the pleadings and relevant law, and for the reasons stated
herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment,
Doc. 16, is GRANTED, Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 18, is
DENIED, the Commissioner's decision is
REVERSED, and this case is
REMANDED for further proceedings consistent
with the Court's rulings.
seeks judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner denying her deceased father's application
for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under
the Social Security Act (“the Act”). Doc. 1 at 1.
For ease of reference, the Court will refer to the decedent,
Edward Schiebel, as Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed for benefits
in February 2013, ultimately claiming that he became disabled
on that date. Doc. 8-1 at 36-38. Because Plaintiff's date
last insured (“DLI”) was September 30, 2014, Doc.
8-1 at 19; Doc. 8-1 at 277, the period under consideration
for purposes of his DIB application is from February 2013
through September 2014. Plaintiff's claims were denied at
all administrative levels, and he now appeals to this Court
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Doc. 8-1 at 8-9; Doc.
8-1 at 17-24; Doc. 8-1 at 121-30; Doc. 8-1 at 158-59.
was 56 years old on his alleged onset of disability. Doc. 8-1
at 21; Doc. -1 at 155. He completed three years of college
and had worked as a paralegal intermittently for 27 years.
Doc. 8-1 at 35, 41, 46. In terms of his medical history, the
record shows that Plaintiff suffered from edema bilaterally,
polycythemia, shoulder pain and diabetes, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Doc. 8-1
at 373-74; Doc. 8-1 at 418-19; Doc. 8-1 at 509-10, 529. His
DLI was September 30, 2014. Plaintiff passed away on October
14, 2015. Doc. 8-1 at 290.
The ALJ's Findings
held that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of congestive
heart failure, COPD, history of lung cancer, and degenerative
joint disease. Doc. 8-1 at 19. After consideration of the
evidence, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to carry out
a limited range of light work. Doc. 8-1 at 24. The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff could still perform his past
relevant work as a “court clerk.” Doc. 8-1 at
individual is disabled under the Act if, inter alia,
he is “unable to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment” which has lasted or can be expected
to last for at least twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). In determining whether an individual is
disabled, the Commissioner uses a five-step inquiry: (1) an
individual who is working and engaging in substantial gainful
activity is not disabled; (2) an individual who does not have
a “severe impairment” is not 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 his past relevant
work, a finding of “not disabled” must be made;
(5) if an individual's impairment precludes him from
performing his past work, other factors including age,
education, past work experience, and RFC must be considered
to determine if any other work can be performed. Wren v.
Sullivan, 925 F.2d 123, 125 (5th Cir. 1991) (per curium)
(summarizing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b)-(f), 416.920
the first four steps of the analysis, the burden of proof
lies with the claimant. Leggett v. Chater, 67 F.3d
558, 564 (5th Cir. 1995). If the claimant satisfies his
burden under the first four steps, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner at step five to show that there is other gainful
employment available in the national economy that the
claimant can perform. Greenspan v. Shalala, 38 F.3d
232, 236 (5th Cir. 1994).
review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to
whether the Commissioner's position is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner applied
proper legal standards in evaluating the evidence.
Greenspan, 38 F.3d at 236; 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g), 1383(C)(3). Substantial evidence is more than a
scintilla, less than a preponderance, and is such relevant
and sufficient evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Leggett, 67 F.3d
at 564. Under this standard, the reviewing court does not
reweigh the evidence, retry the issues, or substitute its own
judgment, but rather, scrutinizes the record to determine
whether substantial evidence is present. Greenspan,
38 F.3d at 236.