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Uc Gia Bui v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 15, 2017

UC GIA BUI, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. Brooke Jackson United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on review of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner's decision denying claimant Uc Gia Bui's 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 decision.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This 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 1019.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Bui was born on May 20, 1975. R. 240. He has minimal education and speaks English with some difficulty. Id. In the last fifteen years Mr. Bui has worked in production assembly, in retail sales, as a materials handler, and as a waiter in a Vietnamese restaurant. R. 191, 240. Since his alleged disability onset date of March 20, 2013, however, Mr. Bui has not held substantial gainful employment. R. 12.

         Mr. Bui suffers from blindness and pain in his right eye as a result of an accident when he was seven years old. R. 240-41. He received a prosthetic eye once he immigrated to the United States. Id. Mr. Bui alleges the condition of his right eye affects his depth perception, ability to concentrate, read, or perform detailed work. Id. He also alleges he is incapable of maintaining the pace required for even simple work because of the pain. Id.

         A. Procedural History

         On May 16, 2013, Mr. Bui filed for DIB and SSI, alleging disability beginning on March 20, 2013. R. 144-58. His claims were initially denied on October 22, 2013. R. 56-59. Mr. Bui requested a hearing on November 1, 2013. R. 60-62. The hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Marsha R. Stroup on September 26, 2014. R. 24. The ALJ denied Mr. Bui's application on November 17, 2014. R. 7-19. Mr. Bui then filed a request for review with the Appeals Council on November 28, 2014. R. 6. His request was denied on January 13, 2016. R. 1-3. Mr. Bui then filed his case in this court on March 11, 2016. ECF No. 1.

         B. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision after evaluating the evidence according to the SSA's standard five-step process. R. 10-19. First, the ALJ found that Mr. Bui has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of March 20, 2013. R. 12. At step two, the ALJ found that Mr. Bui had the severe impairments of “blindness in the right eye, entropion of the right eyelid, suspect glaucoma of the left eye, and left eye myopia with astigmatism.” Id. At step three, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Bui 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 1. R. 13.

         The ALJ then found that Mr. Bui retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform “medium work” as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) and § 416.967(c) with the following limitations:

[T]he claimant can perform unskilled work without English requirements on the job. The claimant cannot perform work with very small parts due to no vision in his right eye which affects his depth perception. The claimant cannot work around hazards, around dusts, or other ...

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