United States District Court, S.D. Texas
Cynthia G. Condrey, Plaintiff,
Nancy Berryhill, Defendant.
OPINION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
N. Hughes United States District Judge.
G. Condrey brought this action for judicial review of the
commissioner's final decision to deny her disability
insurance benefits. The question is whether substantial
evidence supports the commissioner's decision. It does.
applied for disability benefits on August 27, 2014. She
claimed to suffer from several physical and mental
conditions, including fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis,
seizures, migraine headaches, epilepsy, neuropathy,
depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Condrey claimed she
could not sit or stand for long periods, that she could pay
attention only for two to three minutes, and that she would
fall asleep without realizing it. She also claimed to have an
uncontrolled seizure disorder.
alleged that she became disabled in 2011, but later amended
the onset date to April 30, 2014. Condrey graduated from
college with a bachelor's degree in business. Before 2011
she worked as a security guard and in various administrative
and office jobs.
hearing officer found that Condrey suffers from numerous
severe impairments. Because none of those impairments prevent
Condrey from returning to her previous work, the hearing
officer found that Condrey is not disabled.
Standard of Review
court's review is limited to determining whether
commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence and whether the correct legal standards were
employed. Garcia v. Berryhill, 880 F.3d 700, 704
(5th Cir. 2018). The court "does not reweigh the
evidence in the record, try the issues de novo, or
substitute its judgment for the Commissioner's, even if
the evidence weighs against the Commissioner's
decision." Newton v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 448, 452
(5th Cir. 2000). "Conflicts in the evidence are for the
Commissioner and not the courts to resolve."
Id. "A decision is supported by substantial
evidence if credible evidentiary choices or medical findings
support the decision." Salmond v. Berryhill,
892 F.3d 812, 817 (5th Cir. 2018).
Statutory and Regulatory Criteria
Social Security Act provides disability insurance benefits to
people who have contributed to the program and have a
physical or mental disability. See 42 U.S.C. §
423. It defines disability as the "inability 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 a continuous
period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. §
Commissioner uses a sequential, five-step approach to
determine whether the claimant is disabled. The claimant
bears the burden of proof on the first four steps, but the
Commissioner bears the burden on the fifth step.
Newton, 209 F.3d at 455. First, a person who is
working and engaging in substantial gainful activity is not
disabled. Second, a person who does not have a severe
impairment is not disabled. Third, a person whose severe
impairments meet or equal an impairment in appendix 1 of the
regulations is deemed disabled. The commissioner must
determine the person's residual functional capacity
("RFC"), which is a determination of the most the
claimant can still do despite her physical and mental
limitations. The RFC is used in the fourth and fifth steps of
the analysis to determine whether the claimant can perform
past relevant work or any other work that is significant in
the national economy.