United States District Court, N.D. Texas, San Angelo Division
MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION
RAY, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the plaintiff seeks judicial
review of the decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security, who denied his application for supplemental
security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
The Senior United States District Judge reassigned the case
to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and the
parties have consented to proceed before a United States
Magistrate Judge. After considering the pleadings, briefs,
and administrative record, this Court recommends the decision
of the Commissioner be affirmed and this case dismissed.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
filed his application for SSI on October 19, 2015, alleging
impairments that were disabling as of January 1, 2012 and
later amended the onset date to October 19, 2015. That
application was denied initially and after reconsideration.
The plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held before an
Administrative Law Judge on March 1, 2017. The ALJ issued a
decision on May 18, 2017 finding the claimant was not
the ALJ found during step one that the plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity after the amended
onset date. (Doc. 14-1, 21). At step two, the ALJ found he
had the severe impairments of mild intellectual disorder,
major depressive disorder, and possible seizure disorder.
(Doc. 14-1, 22). In the third step, the ALJ found those
severe impairments did not meet and were not the equivalent
of any listed impairments. (Doc. 14-1, 31). The step three
analysis continued with the ALJ determining the claimant
retained the residual functional capacity to perform work
with environmental limitations due to the seizure risk and
limitations to short, simple instructions on judgment
required only on simple work-related decisions, as well as
limitations on contact with the public and coworkers. (Doc.
14-1, 33). The ALJ did not find evidence of a past relevant
job he could return to, but that there were sufficient jobs
he could perform, and was therefore not disabled. (Doc. 14-1,
plaintiff then applied to the Appeals Council, which denied
review on February 15, 2018. Therefore, the ALJ's
decision is the Commissioner's final decision and is
properly before the Court for review. Higginbotham v.
Barnhart, 405 F.3d 332, 334 (5th Cir. 2005) ("[t]he
Commissioner's final decision includes the Appeals
Council's denial of [a claimant's] request for
to the pleadings, testimony at the administrative hearing,
and administrative record, the plaintiff was 41 years old and
living with his wife and child at the time of the hearing. He
had experience as a custodian, an aide on an oil field rig,
and stocking shelves. He believes his physical and mental
impairments render him disabled under the Act.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
person is disabled if they are unable to "engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
twelve months." 42 U.S.C. §§ 1382(c)(a)(3)(A),
423 (d)(1)(A) (2012). '"Substantial gainful
activity' is work activity involving significant physical
or mental abilities for pay or profit." Masterson v.
Barnhart, 309 F.3d 267, 271 n.2 (5th Cir. 2002); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1572(a)-(b).
evaluate a disability claim, the Commissioner follows 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); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). "The
claimant bears the burden of showing [they are] disabled
through the first four steps of the analysis; on the fifth,
the Commissioner must show that there is other substantial
work in the national economy that the claimant can
perform." Audler, 501 F.3d at 448. Before
proceeding to steps 4 and 5, the Commissioner must assess a
claimant's RFC. Perez v. Barnhart, 415 F.3d 457,
461 (5th Cir. 2005). RFC is defined as "the most [a
claimant] can still do despite [the claimant's]
limitations." 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(1).
Court's review of the Commissioner's decision to deny
disability benefits is limited to an inquiry into whether
substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
findings, and whether the Commissioner applied the proper
legal standards. Waters v. Barnhart, 276 F.3d 716,
718 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Estate of Morris v.
Shalala, 207 F.3d 744, 745 (5th Cir. 2000)). Substantial
evidence "is more than a mere scintilla and less than a
preponderance" and includes "such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion." Newton v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 448, 452
(5th Cir. 2000); Watson v. Barnhart, 288 F.3d 212,
215 (5th Cir. 2002). If substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's findings, then the findings are
conclusive, and the Court must affirm the Commissioner's
decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971); Newton, 209
F.3d at 452. The Court may not reweigh the evidence, try the
issues de novo, or substitute its judgment for the
Commissioner's, even if the Court believes that the
evidence weighs against the Commissioner's decision.
Masterson, 309 F.3d at 272. Moreover,
"[c]onflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner
and not the courts to resolve." Newton, 209
F.3d at 452.
plaintiff alleges the ALJ did not support some analysis with
substantial evidence. Specifically, he points to
determinations about cerebrovascular issues and mental
impairments. However, this is a misstatement of the law: the
claimant bears the burden of presenting evidence of
disability, and the ALJ's duty is to develop all relevant
facts, not collect all existing records. See Audler,
501 F.3d at 448; Sun v. Colvin,793 F.3d 502, 509
(5th Cir. 2015). To upset the ALJ's decision, the
plaintiff must show that there was insufficient evidence for
a reasonable person to reach the same conclusion as the ALJ,
not that some contradictory evidence might exist.
Newton, 209 F.3d at 452. As opposed to cases ...