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.

Sluis v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 6, 2018

KIMBERLY E. SLUIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISISONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          KATHLEEN M. TAFOYA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This case comes before the court on review of the Commissioner's denial of Plaintiff Kimberly E. Sluis's application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). Jurisdiction is proper under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff filed her Opening Brief on November 25, 2016 (Doc. No. 44 [Opening Br.]), Defendant filed her Response Brief on December 14, 2016 (Doc. No. 45 [Resp. Br.]), and Plaintiff filed her Reply Brief on December 21, 2016 (Doc. No. 21 [Reply Br.]).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI in October 2014, alleging disability beginning in March 2013 due to depression and other physical impairments. (Administrative Record [AR] at 221-22, 228-33, 273.) The ALJ held a hearing in December 2015, during which Plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. (AR at 48-102.) The ALJ issued a decision on January 4, 2016, finding Plaintiff was not disabled and not entitled to DIB or SSI because she retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a range of sedentary work and a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (AR at 21-40.) The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR at 1-5.) Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which provides for this Court's jurisdiction.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A person is disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act only if his physical and/or mental impairments preclude him from performing both his previous work and any other “substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2). “When a claimant has one or more severe impairments the Social Security [Act] requires the [Commissioner] to consider the combined effects of the impairments in making a disability determination.” Campbell v. Bowen, 822 F.2d 1518, 1521 (10th Cir. 1987) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(C)). However, the mere existence of a severe impairment or combination of impairments does not require a finding that an individual is disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. To be disabling, the claimant's condition must be so functionally limiting as to preclude any substantial gainful activity for at least twelve consecutive months. See Kelley v. Chater, 62 F.3d 335, 338 (10th Cir. 1995).

         The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether a claimant is disabled:

1. The ALJ must first ascertain whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity. A claimant who is working is not disabled regardless of the medical findings.
2. The ALJ must then determine whether the claimed impairment is “severe.” A “severe impairment” must significantly limit the claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work activities.
3. The ALJ must then determine if the impairment meets or equals in severity certain impairments described in Appendix 1 of the regulations.
4. If the claimant's impairment does not meet or equal a listed impairment, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant can perform his past work despite any limitations.
5. If the claimant does not have the residual functional capacity to perform his past work, the ALJ must decide whether the claimant can perform any other gainful and substantial work in the economy. This determination is made on the basis of the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity.

20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v). See also Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988). The claimant has the initial burden of establishing a disability in the first four steps of this analysis. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987). The burden then shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant is capable of performing work in the national economy. Id. A finding that the claimant is disabled or not disabled at any point in the five-step review is conclusive and terminates the analysis. Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 801 (10th Cir. 1991).

         Review of the Commissioner's disability decision is limited to determining whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standard and whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. Hamilton v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495, 1497-98 (10th Cir. 1992); Brown v. Sullivan, 912 F.2d 1194, 1196 (10th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is evidence a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Brown, 912 F.2d at 1196. It requires more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance of the evidence. Hedstrom v. Sullivan, 783 F.Supp. 553, 556 (D. Colo. 1992). “Evidence is not substantial if it is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or constitutes mere conclusion.” Musgrave v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1371, 1374 (10th Cir. 1992). Further, “if the ALJ failed to apply the correct legal test, there is a ground for reversal apart from a lack of substantial evidence.” Thompson v. Sullivan, 987 F.2d 1482, 1487 (10th Cir. 1993). The court “meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, including anything that may undercut or detract from the [administrative law ...


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.