United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
ORDER PARTIALLY ACCEPTING FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
O'CONNOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Callie Charline White (“Plaintiff”) filed this
action seeking judicial review of a final adverse decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”),  who denied her application for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits under
Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
See Compl., ECF No. 1. The Commissioner has filed an
answer, see Answer, ECF No. 12, and a certified copy
of the transcript of the administrative proceedings,
see SSA Admin. R. (hereinafter, “Tr.”),
ECF No. 14-1, including the hearing before the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). The parties have briefed the
issues. See Pl.'s Br., ECF No. 16; Def.'s
Br., ECF No. 17; Pl.'s Reply, ECF No. 18. Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b), the case was referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Hal R. Ray, Jr., for review and submission
of proposed findings of fact and recommendation for
disposition. On July 2, 2019, the United States Magistrate
Judge filed his Findings, Conclusions and Recommendation (the
“Report”), in which he recommended that the Court
affirm the Commissioner's decision and dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint. Report, ECF No. 19. Plaintiff
filed timely objections to the Report. Objections, ECF No.
20. The Commissioner did not file a response to
reasons that follow, the Court accepts the Report in part and
declines to accept it in part as stated herein after
reviewing all relevant matters of record, including the
pleadings, legal briefing, transcript of the administrative
record, Report, and the filed objections, in accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Federal Rule of Civil
alleges she is disabled due to a variety of ailments,
including anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, migraines, a
history of breast cancer, and obesity. After her application
for disability insurance benefits was denied initially and on
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
That hearing was held on April 10, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. At
the time of the hearing Plaintiff was forty-nine years old.
She has a high school general equivalency diploma and past
relevant work experience as an order puller, inspector, and
warehouse coordinator. The ALJ found that Plaintiff was not
disabled and, therefore, not entitled to disability insurance
benefits. At step one of the five-step sequential process,
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since June 1, 2015, the alleged onset date.
At steps two and three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
severe impairments of fibromyalgia, migraines, status
post-malignant neoplasm of breast, obesity, anxiety, and
affective disorder; nevertheless, the ALJ found that her
impairments or combination of impairments did not meet or
medically equal the severity of any listed impairment in the
social security regulations. At step four, the ALJ found
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work, with certain
limitations, but was incapable of performing her past
relevant work. At step five, relying on the testimony of the
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ found that
Plaintiff can work as a packer, assembler, and wire
sorter-jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Counsel, and
the Council affirmed. Plaintiff then filed this action in
federal district court and argues the ALJ erred in finding
her not disabled because he failed to properly consider all
of her functional limitations in determining her RFC and
failed to analyze the treating sources' opinions under 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)'s factors. Plaintiff contends
that, as a result, the RFC with respect to her mental and
physical limitations is not supported by substantial
2, 2019, the magistrate judge issued his Report, accepting
the Commissioner's arguments that the ALJ's
determination was supported by substantial evidence, and
recommending the Court affirm the Commissioner's
determination that Plaintiff was not entitled to a period of
disability or disability insurance benefits. The magistrate
judge found that “[s]ubstantial medical evidence of
record supports the ALJ's assessment of Plaintiff's
mental limitations and her RFC.” Report 12, ECF No. 19.
He further found that the ALJ's failure to analyze the
treating sources' opinions under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)'s factors did not constitute reversible
error. Id. at 10-11.
15, 2019, Plaintiff filed objections to the Report.
See ECF No. 20. The Commissioner did not file a
response to Plaintiff's objections.
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 the
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); Austin v. Shalala, 994 F.2d 1170, 1147 (5th
Cir. 1993). “Substantial evidence is such relevant
evidence as a responsible mind might accept to support a
conclusion.” Boyd v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 698, 704
(5th Cir. 2001); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1977); accord Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923.
It is more then a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.
Boyd, 239 F.3d at 704; Perales, 402 U.S. at
401; Haywood v. Sullivan, 888 F.2d 1463, 1466 (5th
Cir. 1989). The district court may not reweigh the evidence
or substitute its own judgment for that of the Commissioner.
Copeland, 771 F.3d at 924; Harris v. Apfel,
209 F.3d 413, 417 (5th Cir. 2000); Johnson v. Bowen,
864 F.2d 340, 343-44 (5th Cir. 1988). The Court must
scrutinize the record, however, to ascertain whether
substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
findings. Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th
Cir. 1988). A finding of no substantial evidence is
appropriate only when there is no medical evidence or
credible evidentiary choices in the record to support the
Commissioner's decision. Johnson, 864 F.2d at
343-44. If the findings are supported by substantial
evidence, “they are conclusive and must be
affirmed.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court
“may affirm only on the grounds that the Commissioner
stated for [the] decision.” Copeland, 771 F.3d
at 923 (citation omitted).
disabled worker is entitled to monthly benefits under the
Social Security Act if certain conditions are met. 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 twelve months. Id. §
423(d)(1)(A); see also Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923;
Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 393 (5th Cir. 1985).
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 evidence of pain and disability;
and (4) the claimant's age, education, and work history.
See Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 174 (5th Cir.
has a duty to fully and fairly develop the facts relating to
a claim for disability benefits. See Ripley v.
Chater, 67 F.3d 552, 557 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing
Pierre v. Sullivan, 884 F.2d 799, 802 (5th Cir.
1989) (per curiam); Kane v. Heckler, 731 F.2d 1216,
1219 (5th Cir. 1984)). If the ALJ does not satisfy this duty,
the resulting decision is not substantially justified.
See Id. (citing Kane, 731 F.2d at 1219).
However, the Court does not hold the ALJ to procedural
perfection and will reverse the ALJ's decision as not
supported by substantial evidence where the claimant shows
that the ALJ failed to fulfill the duty to adequately develop
the record only if that failure prejudiced Plaintiff, see
Jones v. Astrue, 691 F.3d 730, 733 (5th Cir. 2012)-that
is, only if Plaintiff's substantial rights have been
affected, see Audler, 501 F.3d at 448 (citing
Mays v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1362, 1364 (5th Cir. 1988)
(per curiam)). “Prejudice can be established by showing
that additional evidence would have been produced if the ALJ
had fully developed the record, and that the additional
evidence might have led to a different decision.”
Ripley, 67 F.3d at 557 n.22 (citing Kane,
731 F.2d at 1220). Otherwise stated, Plaintiff “must
show that [he] could and would have adduced evidence that
might have altered the result.” Brock v.
Chater, 84 F.3d 726, 728-29 (5th Cir. 1996) (per curiam)
(citing Kane, 731 F.2d at 1220).
objects to the magistrate judge's findings and conclusion
that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's
determination that she was not disabled. In support,
Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred in finding her not disabled
because he failed to properly consider all of her functional
limitations in determining her RFC and failed to analyze the
treating sources' opinions under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)'s factors. Specifically, Plaintiff argues
that remand is appropriate because the ALJ failed to consider
the factors under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c) with respect
to the opinions of her treating psychiatrist, Dr. Wasiq
Zaidi, and her treating physician, Dr. Gerald L. Ray. Because
of this alleged error, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ's
RFC with respect to her mental and physical limitations is
not supported by substantial evidence. After conducting a