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. (AR 25). 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). (Docket No. 12).
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: major depressive disorder
(MDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and
borderline personality disorder.” (AR 16). The ALJ then
determined that Plaintiff “does not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
the severity of one of the listed impairments” in the
regulations. (AR 16). Because he concluded that Plaintiff did
not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
meets the severity of the listed impairments, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff has the following residual functional capacity
. . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to
perform a full range of work at all exertion levels but with
the following nonexertional limitations: [Plaintiff] can
perform unskilled work with occasional interaction with
co-workers, supervisors, and the public. She should work
primarily with objects rather than people.
(AR 17). The ALJ determined that “there are jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
[Plaintiff] can perform . . . .” (AR 24).
asserts four reversible errors: first, that the ALJ's
conclusion that Plaintiff's mental impairments did not
meet the severity of the listings set forth at 20 C.F.R. Part
404, subpart P, App. 1, § 12.04; second, that the
ALJ's determination regarding Plaintiff's credibility
was not supported by substantial evidence; third, that the
ALJ failed to give the proper weight to Dr. Grovert's
opinion; and fourth, that the ALJ erred by concluding that
there were jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could
perform. (Docket No. 14 at 2).
first argues that the ALJ erred when considering the listings
set forth at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, subpart P, App. 1, §
12.04 9 (“Listings”). Specifically, Plaintiff
maintains that “Listing 12.04 Paragraph C applies [ ]
and any finding by the ALJ other than one that [Plaintiff]
meets or equals the Listing 12.04C is not supported by
substantial evidence.” (Docket No. 14 at 31).
relevant period, Listing 12.04 required Plaintiff to either
meet the requirements in both paragraphs A and B or to meet
the requirements in paragraph C. 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, App.
§ 12.04 (effective Feb. 26, 2014 through Dec. 8, 2014).
The ALJ first considered paragraph B and then considered
paragraph C. (AR 16-17). The ALJ concluded that “[i]n
this case, the evidence fails to establish the presence of
the ‘paragraph C' criteria.” (AR 17).
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ “made no findings . . .
except to state that he had considered it, to summarize its
requirements, and to state that there was no evidence that
they applied.” (Docket No. 18 at 4).
ALJ to find that a severe impairment conclusively disables a
claimant at Step 3, the impairment must be “equivalent
to one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity.” Williams v.
Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 751 (10th Cir. 1988) (citing 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d)). “If the
impairment is listed and thus conclusively presumed to be
disabling, the claimant is entitled to benefits.”
Id. “For a claimant to show that his
impairment matches a listing, it must meet all of the
specified medical criteria. An impairment that manifests only
some of those criteria, no matter how severely, does not
qualify.” Sullivan v. Zebley, 493 U.S. 521,
530 (1990) (emphasis in original).
must make his Step 3 determination solely on medical
evidence. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1526(b).
“[T]he step three analysis requires a comparison of
medical evidence regarding symptoms, signs, and laboratory
findings with the listed impairment sought to be established
or the listed impairment most similar to the
claimant's.” Larson v. Chater, No.
95-2194, 1996 WL 709848, at *1 (10th Cir. Dec.10, 1996).
However, “an ALJ's findings at other steps of the
sequential process may provide a proper basis for upholding a
step three ...