United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. BRIMMER, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the Complaint [Docket No. 1]
filed by plaintiff Kendra Medina on September 27, 2016.
Plaintiff seeks review of the final decision of defendant
Nancy A. Berryhill (the “Commissioner”) denying
her claim for supplemental security income under Title XVI of
the Social Security Act (the “Act”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381, et seq. The Court has jurisdiction to
review the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C.
24, 2013, plaintiff applied for supplemental security income
under Title XVI of the Act. R. at 11. Plaintiff alleged that
she had been disabled since October 18, 2012. Id.
After an initial administrative denial of her claim,
plaintiff received a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) on April 21, 2015. Id. On
May 15, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying
plaintiff's claim. R. at 20. The ALJ found that plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: obesity and chronic low
back pain due to degenerative disc disease, with exacerbation
secondary to status post multiple steroid injections. R. at
13. The ALJ concluded that these impairments, alone or in
combination, did not meet one of the regulations' listed
impairments, R. at 14, and ruled that plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except the
claimant must be able to sit and stand at will. The claimant
can stand or walk 20-30 minutes and would be able to sit
about 30 minutes, sitting cumulatively would be up to 5 hours
in an eight-hour day, and standing or walking would be up to
5 hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant would not be
off task during the shifting of position. She can never
kneel, crouch, crawl, or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.
She can occasionally climb stairs, ramps, and stoop. She is
not capable of driving or commercial driving. She must avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme cold, avoid even moderate
exposure to vibration, unprotected heights, and hazardous or
moving machinery. She would likely need to lie down during
the lunch hour for 20-30 minutes, wherever allowable, in her
private car or in an employee break room.
Id. Plaintiff has no past relevant work. R. at 18.
Based upon the RFC and in reliance on the testimony of a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ concluded that
plaintiff is capable of performing jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy, including
cashier II, assembler, and order clerk. R. at 19.
29, 2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request
for review of the ALJ's denial of her claim. R. at 1.
Given the Appeals Council's denial, the ALJ's
decision is the final decision of the Commissioner.
Standard of Review
of the Commissioner's finding that a claimant is not
disabled is limited to determining whether the Commissioner
applied the correct legal standards and whether the decision
is supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole. See Angel v. Barnhart, 329 F.3d 1208, 1209
(10th Cir. 2003). The district court may not reverse an ALJ
simply because the court may have reached a different result
based on the record; the question instead is whether there is
substantial evidence showing that the ALJ was justified in
her decision. See Ellison v. Sullivan, 929 F.2d 534,
536 (10th Cir. 1990). “Substantial evidence is more
than a mere scintilla and is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Flaherty v. Astrue, 515 F.3d
1067, 1070 (10th Cir. 2007). Moreover, “[e]vidence 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). The
district court will not “reweigh the evidence or retry
the case, ” but must “meticulously examine the
record as a whole, including anything that may undercut or
detract from the ALJ's findings in order to determine if
the substantiality test has been met.”
Flaherty, 515 F.3d at 1070. Nevertheless,
“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 Five-Step Evaluation Process
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must have a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment expected
to result in death or last for a continuous period of twelve
months that prevents the claimant from performing any
substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)-(2). Furthermore,
[a]n individual shall be determined to be under a disability
only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are
of such severity that he is not only unable to do his
previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and
work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless
of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A) (2006). The Commissioner has
established a five-step sequential evaluation process to
determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520; Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750 ...