United States District Court, D. Colorado
BRENDA R. NURRE, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, 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 Brenda Nurre's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act. Jurisdiction is proper under
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons below, the Court
REVERSES and REMANDS the Commissioner's decision.
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
Nurre was born on February 25, 1977. R. 1894. She has a
bachelor's degree and speaks English. Id.; R.
30. In the past, Ms. Nurre worked as an administrative
assistant, bank cashier/teller, and counter clerk. R. 1894.
She also served a brief stint in the military. See
R. 100. However, since her alleged disability onset
date of July 1, 2008 through her date last insured of March
31, 2009, Ms. Nurre has not held substantial gainful
employment. R. 1886.
to the record, Ms. Nurre suffers from numerous medical
conditions, including the following: “history of
partial tear of supraspinatus muscle; status post right knee
injury; lumbrosacral strain; right tronchanteric bursitis;
migraines; major depression; anxiety disorder; premenstrual
dysphoric disorder (PMDD)[.]” See, e.g., R.
September 17, 2009 Ms. Nurre filed an application for DIB,
alleging disability beginning on July 1, 2008. See
R. 13, 100-04. Her claims were initially denied on June 7,
2010. R. 13, 58-60. Ms. Nurre subsequently requested a
hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) E. William Shaffer on July 19, 2011. R.
27-42. The ALJ denied Ms. Nurre's application on
September 16, 2011. R. 13-23. Ms. Nurre then filed a request
for review with the Appeals Council. See R. 7-9. The
Appeals Council rejected Ms. Nurre appeal on September 26,
2012. R. 1-6. The ALJ's decision, however, was
subsequently reversed and remanded on March 31, 2014 by my
colleague, Judge Philip Brimmer. R. 1969- 80; Nurre v.
Colvin, 12-CV-03060-PAB, 2014 WL 1292878, at *6 (D.
Colo. Mar. 31, 2014).
subsequently had a second hearing. R. 1902-30. In a
remarkably similarly decision to his first (almost word for
word in parts), the ALJ again found that plaintiff did not
suffer from a disability. R. 1884-95. Plaintiff subsequently
appealed that second decision to the Appeals Council, which
again denied her appeal. R. 1856-64. Ms. Nurre then filed her
case in this Court on May 25, 2016. ECF No. 1.
The ALJ's Decision
issued a second unfavorable decision after evaluating the
evidence according to the SSA's standard five-step
process. R. 1884-95. First, the ALJ found that Ms. Nurre had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged
onset date of July 1, 2008. R. 1886. At step two, the ALJ
found that Ms. Nurre had the following severe impairments:
“history of partial supraspinatus tear; status post
right knee injury; lumbosacral strain; right tronchanteric
bursitis; migraines; major depression; anxiety disorder;
premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)[.]” Id.
At step three, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Nurre 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.
then found that Ms. Nurre retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform “light
work” as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) with
the following limitations:
The claimant could stand/walk and sit each six hours of an
eight-hour workday, could push and pull with upper and lower
extremities within the light exertional level, could not
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, could occasionally stoop,
kneel, crouch and crawl, and needed to avoid concentrated
exposure to temperature extremes, vibrations, unprotected
heights and unprotected running or operating major
manufacturing machinery. The claimant could perform unskilled
work. The claimant required decreased interpersonal contact
with the general public, co-workers and supervisors no more
than occasionally during ...