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Saiz v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 22, 2017

JERRY ANTHONY SAIZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          ORDER VACATING DECISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE

          William J. Martinez, United States District Judge.

         This is a social security benefits appeal brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff Jerry A. Saiz ("Saiz") challenges the final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying his application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The denial was affirmed by an administrative law judge ("ALJ"), who ruled that Saiz was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. This appeal followed.

         For the reasons set forth below, the ALJ's decision denying Saiz's application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income is VACATED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Saiz was born in 1963, and was 50 years old on the alleged disability onset date. (Admin. Record ("R.") (ECF No. 11) at 45.) Saiz completed the eleventh grade and has previously worked as a laborer and tractor operator. (R. at 135.)

         Saiz filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on April 29, 2013, alleging that he has been disabled since March 4, 2013 due to multiple impairments, including: broken ribs, carpel tunnel, back problems, Bell's palsy, nerve damage, and hernia related injuries. (R. at 45.) Saiz also filed an application for supplemental security income on April 29, 2013, alleging the same disabilities. (R. at 51.) Saiz's applications were initially denied and he requested a hearing, which was held on April 16, 2015 before ALJ Earl W. Shaffer. (R. at 27, 49, 55.) On May 5, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in accordance with the Commissioner's five-step sequential evaluation process. (R. at 10-22.)[2]

         At step one, the ALJ found that Saiz had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 4, 2013. (R. at 12.)

         At step two, the ALJ found that Saiz suffered from the following impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, carpal tunnel syndrome, and obesity. (Id.) The ALJ found each of the above impairments to be medically determinable and severe. (R. at 12-13.)

         At step three, the ALJ found that Saiz's impairments, while severe, did not meet or medically equal any of the impairments listed in the Social Security regulations. (R. at 14.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ assessed Saiz's residual functional capacity ("RFC"). The ALJ concluded that Saiz has the RFC to perform "light" work as defined by the regulations, except as follows:

Standing, walking, and sitting are all six out of an eight-hour workday. Pushing and pulling with the upper extremities are limited to 15 pounds. There should be no climbing of ladders, ropes, and scaffolds and no balancing or crawling. Overhead reaching bilaterally is limited to 10 pounds occasionally. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, vibrations, unprotected heights, and unprotected major industrial machinery. Work could be performed at the unskilled level.

(R. at 14.)

         Next, at step four, the ALJ concluded that Saiz "is unable to perform any past relevant work." (R. at 20.) Thus, the ALJ proceeded to step five and found that there are jobs that exist in the national economy that Saiz could perform, such as: cashier, garment sorter, and mail clerk. (R. at 21.)

         Accordingly, the ALJ found that Saiz was not entitled to either disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income. (R. at 22.) The ALJ's decision became final after sixty days. See 20 C.F.R. ยง 404.984(d). Saiz appealed to the Social Security Appeals Council, which denied review (R. at 1). ...


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