United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
F. CASTANEDA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a civil action seeking judicial review of an administrative
decision. Jurisdiction is predicated upon 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). Plaintiff appeals from the decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's claims
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under
Title II of the Social Security Act. Both parties consented
to trial on the merits before a United States Magistrate
Judge, and the case was transferred to this Court for trial
and entry of judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and
Appendix C to the Local Court Rules for the Western District
of Texas. For the reasons set forth below, this Court orders
that the Commissioner's decision be
REVERSED and REMANDED.
August 5, 2015, Plaintiff first filed a Title II application
alleging a disability onset date of November 1, 2014.
(R:590-93). Plaintiff's claim was denied on September 16,
2015 (R:514- 18), denied upon reconsideration on February 5,
2016 (R:524-27), denied by the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on March 27, 2018. (R:432-43), and the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
April 5, 2019. (R:1-4).
presents the following issues for review:
1. The ALJ's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determination and impairment findings
impermissibly omitted Plaintiff's chronic pain syndrome,
long-term opioid pain management, and Plaintiff's use of
a cane; and
2. The ALJ's RFC determination did not consider
Plaintiff's objective medical evidence.
(ECF. No 14).
Standard of Review
Court's review is limited to a determination of whether
the Commissioner's final decision is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole and whether the
Commissioner applied the proper legal standards in evaluating
the evidence. See Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172,
173 (5th Cir. 1995); Greenspan v. Shalala, 38 F.3d
232, 236 (5th Cir. 1994). Substantial evidence is more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance, and is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Ripley v. Chater,
67 F.3d 552, 555 (5th Cir. 1995). A finding of no substantial
evidence will be made only where there is a
“conspicuous absence of credible choices” or
“no contrary medical evidence.” Abshire v.
Bowen, 848 F.2d 638, 640 (5th Cir. 1988) (citing
Hames v. Heckler, 707 F.2d 162, 164 (5th Cir.
1983)). In reviewing the substantiality of the evidence, a
court must consider the record as a whole and “must
take into account whatever in the record fairly detracts from
its weight.” Singletary v. Bowen, 798 F.2d
818, 823 (5th Cir. 1986) (quoting Parsons v.
Heckler, 739 F.2d 1334, 1339 (8th Cir. 1984)).
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence, they are conclusive and must be affirmed.
Martinez, 64 F.3d at 173. In applying the
substantial evidence standard, a court must carefully examine
the entire record, but may not reweigh the evidence or try
the issues de novo. Haywood v. Sullivan,
888 F.2d 1463, 1466 (5th Cir. 1989). It may not substitute
its own judgment “even if the evidence preponderates
against the [Commissioner's] decision, ” because
substantial evidence is less than a preponderance.
Harrell v. Bowen, 862 F.2d 471, 475 (5th Cir. 1988).
Conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner, and not
the courts, to resolve. Spellman v. Shalala, 1 F.3d
357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993).