United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. WATANABE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
government determined that Plaintiff is not disabled for
purposes of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff has asked this
Court to review that decision. The Court has jurisdiction
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and both parties have agreed
to have this case decided by a U.S. Magistrate Judge under 28
U.S.C. § 636(c).
Social Security appeals, the Court reviews the decision of
the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) to determine
whether the factual findings are supported by substantial
evidence and whether the correct legal standards were
applied. See Pisciotta v. Astrue, 500 F.3d 1074,
1075 (10th Cir. 2007). “Substantial evidence is such
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion. It requires more than a scintilla, but
less than a preponderance.” Raymond v. Astrue,
621 F.3d 1269, 1271-72 (10th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation
marks omitted). The Court “should, indeed must,
exercise common sense” and “cannot insist on
technical perfection.” Keyes-Zachary v.
Astrue, 695 F.3d 1156, 1166 (10th Cir. 2012). The Court
cannot reweigh the evidence or its credibility. Lax v.
Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007).
second step of the Commissioner's five-step sequence for
making determinations,  the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has
the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the
bilateral knees and back, flat feet, vi[til]igo, and
hypertension.” (AR 10.) Together with Plaintiff's
non-severe limitations, the ALJ then determined that
Plaintiff has the following residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), as is relevant here:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform a range of medium work as
defined in the Regulations with the following restrictions
and limitations: the claimant is able to lift and carry 50
pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently. The claimant is
able to sit six hours and stand and/or walk six hours during
an eight-hour workday. The claimant is able to frequently
stoop, kneel, and crouch.
(AR 13-14.) The ALJ found that, considering Plaintiff's
“age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that the claimant can
perform, ” such as a hand packager and kitchen helper.
(AR 17.) Therefore, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not
been under a disability since November 30, 2012, the date the
application was filed. (AR 18.)
proceeds on appeal pro se. Defendant has organized
Plaintiff's contentions as follows: first, the Appeals
Council did not consider her new evidence; second, the ALJ
failed to obtain additional psychological testing and his
findings on Plaintiff's mental impairment were not
supported by substantial evidence; and third, the ALJ erred
in finding that Plaintiff did not meet or medically equal the
requirements of a listed impairment. The Court finds this a
reasonable way to frame the issues, and will discuss each
argument in turn.
Evidence Submitted to Appeals Council
submitted to the Appeals Council a letter that she wrote,
medical records from Kaiser Permanente, and medical records
from Aurora Mental Health Center. (AR 4.) The Appeals Council
found that this information did not provide a basis for
changing the ALJ's decision. (AR 2.) The Court agrees.
Appeals Council is required to review new evidence that is
“new, material, and chronologically relevant.”
Martinez v. Barnhart, 444 F.3d 1201, 1207 (10th Cir.
2006) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.970(b)). The Appeals
Council is not required to provide an express analysis of the
effect of the new material. Id. at 1208. See
also Lynn v. Colvin, 637 F.App'x 495, 497 (10th Cir.
2016) (unpublished) (holding that the Appeals Council
satisfies its obligation by stating that it has considered
the additional evidence and that it does not provide a basis
for changing the ALJ's decision). Because the Appeals
Council stated that it considered the new evidence and
determined that it did not provide a basis for changing the
ALJ's decision, it adequately addressed the new evidence.
as Defendant points out, much of the material that Plaintiff
submitted was not new in that it was already a part of the
record. Of the records that are new, none undercut the
ALJ's finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. The
records refer to Plaintiff's medical conditions that were
thoroughly discussed in the ALJ's decision, including her
ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorder. Had these records
been available to ALJ, there is nothing to indicate that they
would have altered his findings. Accordingly, the Court will
not remand on these grounds.