Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Clinton B. v. Saul

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

July 11, 2019

CLINTON B. Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          DAVID L. HORAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons explained below, the hearing decision should be reversed.

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges that he is disabled as a result of back pain due to a car accident, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, and anxiety. After his applications for supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits was denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). That hearing was held on July 23, 2015. See Dkt. No. 11 (Administrative Record [Tr.”]) at 107-156. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was 53 years old. He is a high school graduate and has past work experience as a sandblaster. Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 31, 2014.

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled and therefore not entitled to SSI benefits. See Id. at 92-103. Although the medical evidence established that Plaintiff suffered from major depressive disorder and personality disorder, the ALJ concluded that the severity of those impairments did not meet or equal any impairment listed in the social security regulations. The ALJ further determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to a limited range of work at all exertional levels, but could not return to his past relevant employment. Relying on a vocational expert's testimony, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was capable of working as a garment sorter or marking clerk -- jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.

         Plaintiff appealed that decision to the Appeals Council. The Council affirmed.

         In a single ground for relief, Plaintiff contends that the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) finding was not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ failed to apply the 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c) factors before rejecting Plaintiff's treating source opinion.

         The undersigned concludes that the hearing decision should be reversed and this case remanded to the Commissioner of Social Security for further proceedings consistent with these findings and conclusions.

         Legal Standards

         Judicial review in social security cases is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole and whether Commissioner applied the proper legal standards to evaluate the evidence. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Copeland v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 920, 923 (5th Cir. 2014); Ripley v. Chater, 67 F.3d 552, 555 (5th Cir. 1995). Substantial evidence is “more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); accord Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923. The Commissioner, rather than the courts, must resolve conflicts in the evidence, including weighing conflicting testimony and determining witnesses' credibility, and the Court does not try the issues de novo. See Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 174 (5th Cir. 1995); Greenspan v. Shalala, 38 F.3d 232, 237 (5th Cir. 1994). This Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for the Commissioner's but must scrutinize the entire record to ascertain whether substantial evidence supports the hearing decision. See Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923; Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th Cir. 1988). The Court “may affirm only on the grounds that the Commissioner stated for [the] decision.” Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923.

         “In order to qualify for disability insurance benefits or [supplemental security income], a claimant must suffer from a disability.” Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). A disabled worker is entitled to monthly social security benefits if certain conditions are met. See 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). The Act defines “disability” as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or last for a continued period of 12 months. See Id. § 423(d)(1)(A); see also Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923; Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 393 (5th Cir. 1985).

         “In evaluating a disability claim, the Commissioner conducts a five-step sequential analysis to determine whether (1) the claimant is presently working; (2) the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) the impairment meets or equals an impairment listed in appendix 1 of the social security regulations; (4) the impairment prevents the claimant from doing past relevant work; and (5) the impairment prevents the claimant from doing any other substantial gainful activity.” Audler v. Astrue, 501 F.3d 446, 447-48 (5th Cir. 2007).

         The claimant bears the initial burden of establishing a disability through the first four steps of the analysis; on the fifth, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that there is other substantial work in the national economy that the claimant can perform. See Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923; Audler, 501 F.3d at 448. A finding that the claimant is disabled or not disabled at any point in the five-step review is conclusive and terminates the analysis. See Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923; Lovelace v. Bowen, 813 F.2d 55, 58 (5th Cir. 1987).

         In reviewing the propriety of a decision that a claimant is not disabled, the Court's function is to ascertain whether the record as a whole contains substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's final decision. The Court weighs four elements to determine whether there is substantial evidence of disability: (1) objective medical facts; (2) diagnoses and opinions of treating and examining physicians; (3) subjective ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.