Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Walther v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 12, 2017

MORGAN B. WALTHER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [*] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. Brooke Jackson United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's decision denying claimant Morgan B. Walther's application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. Jurisdiction is proper under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons explained below, the Court reverses and remands the Commissioner's decision.

         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. 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). 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.

         BACKGROUND

          A. Medical Background.

         Mr. Walther is 45 years old. See R. 32. He has a bachelor's degree and lives in Cortez, Colorado. Id. Prior to filing for disability in 2013, Mr. Walther worked at Wal-Mart for nearly twenty years. R. 25. While there, he worked as a department manager, night receiver, stocker, cash office employee, and cashier. Id.

         Mr. Walther alleges that he became disabled on July 2, 2013. R. 151. He quit his job because he was having asthma attacks with such frequency that he was “missing more work than he was there.” R. 25. He claims that these asthma attacks were brought on when his job requirements as a cashier required too much physical exertion. Id.

         These respiratory issues are exacerbated by his weight. R. 42. At the time of the hearing before the ALJ, Mr. Walther weighed 492 pounds and had a body mass index of 70.6. See id. Tasks such as walking, sitting, standing, and reaching are painful for Mr. Walther because of his morbid obesity. R. 51.

         In addition to asthma and morbid obesity, both parties agree that Mr. Walther suffers from lumbar spine degeneration. R. 21. Mr. Walther additionally purports to suffer from sleep apnea, acid reflux, high blood pressure, borderline type 2 diabetes, gout, and depression. R. 21- 22. He claims to have pain in his hips, knees, ankles and feet. R. 22.

         Mr. Walther has been a patient at Dr. Hope Barkhurst's general practice since 2004. R. 178. During appointments, Mr. Walther would generally meet with nurse practitioner Brown-Sanchez (“N.P. Brown-Sanchez”), and then Dr. Barkhurst would “sign off on” the treatment plans created by N.P. Brown-Sanchez. R. 302, 305, 308, 314, 316, 319, 323, 326, 327, 328, 330, 333, 334, 376, 369, 372, 375. This posture occurred over seventeen times since 2004. Id. However, Dr. Barkhurst personally treated Mr. Walther at least twice during this time. R. 309- 312.

         In preparation for his hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Mr. Walther sent a medical source statement to Dr. Barkhurst and N.P. Brown-Sanchez for completion. R. 403-406. N.P. Brown-Sanchez filled out the statement, noting with specificity Mr. Walther's physical limitations in the employment context. Id. Dr. Barkhurst signed and dated this medical source statement. R. 406.

         B. Procedural History.

         Mr. Walther applied for disability insurance benefits on July 15, 2013. R. 151. His application was initially denied on January 30, 2014. R. 81-83. Mr. Walther requested reconsideration, and a video hearing was held before ALJ William Musseman on May 6, 2015. R. 19, 103. The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on May 28, 2015. R. 16-37. Mr. Walther timely appealed the decision to the Appeals Council. R. 15. The Appeals Council denied his request for review, rendering the ALJ's denial of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.