United States District Court, D. Colorado
DARRELL L. JONES, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
Brooke Jackson United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on review of the Social Security
Administration ("SSA") Commissioner's decision
denying claimant Darrell Lionel Jones' application for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title
II of the Social Security Act and for supplemental security
income ("SSI") under Title XVI. Jurisdiction is
proper under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons
explained below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's
STANDARD OF REVIEW
appeal is based upon the administrative record and the
parties' briefs. In reviewing a final decision by the
Commissioner, the District Court examines the record and
determines whether it contains substantial evidence to
support the Commissioner's decision and whether the
Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. Winfrey
v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017, 1019 (10th Cir. 1996). A
decision is not based on substantial evidence if it is
"overwhelmed by other evidence in the record.”
Bernal v. Bowen, 851 F.2d 297, 299 (10th Cir. 1988).
Substantial evidence requires “more than a scintilla,
but less than a preponderance.” Wall v.
Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009). Evidence
is not substantial if it “constitutes mere
conclusion.” Musgrave v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d
1371, 1374 (10th Cir. 1992). In addition, reversal may be
appropriate if the Commissioner applies an incorrect legal
standard or fails to demonstrate that the correct legal
standards have been followed. Winfrey, 92 F.3d at
Jones was born on March 29, 1957. R. 27. He has a limited
education but speaks English. Id. Within the past
fifteen years Mr. Jones has worked as a warehouse worker at a
noodle company. Id. However, since his amended,
alleged disability onset date of August 21, 2009 he has not
held substantial gainful employment. R. 13.
Jones suffers from numerous health conditions, including a
history of right leg fracture, gout, hypertension and
abdominal aortic arthrosclerosis, degenerative disc disease,
shoulder and arm pain, diabetes, mood disorder not otherwise
specified (“NOS”) with anxiety, psychotic
disorder NOS, alcohol dependency, mild cataracts, and
refractive amblyopia. R. 13- 14. He alleges that some of
these conditions, namely his psychological disorders and
alcohol dependence, began shortly after his wife passed away
on January 9, 2009. See R. 110-11. Some of his other
ailments, including gout, hypertension, abdominal aortic
arthrosclerosis, degenerative disc disease, shoulder and arm
pain, and diabetes are either minor conditions or are
well-controlled with medications. See R. 14.
March of 2012 Mr. Jones filed for DIB and SSI, alleging
disability beginning July 1, 2002. R. 294-302. His claims
were initially denied on January 3, 2013. R. 141.
Later that month plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. R.
186-88. That hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Jennifer A. Simmons on October 31, 2013,
during which time plaintiff amended his alleged disability
onset date to August 21, 2009. R. 11, 77-140. A supplemental
hearing was held on February 6, 2014. R. 37-76. The ALJ
subsequently denied plaintiff's application on May 27,
2014. R. 8-29. Plaintiff then filed a request for review with
the Appeals Council on July 7, 2014. R. 6-7. His request was
denied on September 4, 2015. R. 1-3. Mr. Jones then filed his
case in this court on March 7, 2016. ECF No. 1.
The ALJ's Decision.
issued an unfavorable decision after evaluating the evidence
according to the SSA's standard five-step process. R.
11-29. First, the ALJ found that Mr. Jones had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of
August 21, 2009. R. 13. At step two, the ALJ found that Mr.
Jones had the severe impairments of: “history of right
leg fracture; mood disorder not otherwise specified (NOS)
with anxiety; psychotic disorder NOS; alcohol dependency;
mild cataracts and refractive amblyopia.” Id.
At step three, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Jones did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix. R.
then found that Mr. Jones retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform “medium
work” as defined by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) and
§ 416.967(c) with the following limitations:
[T]he claimant can frequently climb, balance, knee [sic],
crouch, crawl, and/or stoop; he has the capacity for frequent
vision in the areas of far acuity, near acuity, accommodation
and depth perceptions; he can perform simple and repetitive
tasks; he cannot perform tasks requiring interaction with the
public' he cannot perform tasks requiring hypervigilance;
he can occasionally perform tasks requiring teamwork; [and
that] he should have no responsibility for the safety of
R. 16; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) (“Medium work
involves lifting no more than 50 pounds at a time with
frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25
pounds. If someone can do medium work, we determine that he
or she can also do sedentary and light work.”); 20
C.F.R. § 416.967(c) (same).
four, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Jones is capable of
performing his past relevant work as a warehouse worker
because this job would not require plaintiff to perform any
work or work-related activities that his RFC precluded. R.
27. Finally, at step five, the ALJ determined that there were
jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that Mr. Jones could perform, such as a meat ...