United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER AFFIRMING DISABILITY DETERMINATION
S. KRIEGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court as an appeal from the
Commissioner's Final Administrative Decision
(“Decision”) determining that the Plaintiff Vesta
Ann Lopez is not disabled within the meaning of sections
216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.
Having considered all of the documents filed, including the
record (#10), the Court now finds and
concludes as follows:
Court has jurisdiction over an appeal from a final decision
of the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Ms. Lopez
protectively filed an application for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under the Social Security Act in
October 2014. The state agency denied her claim. She
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), who issued an unfavorable decision. Ms.
Lopez appealed to the Appeals Council, which denied her
request for review, making the ALJ's determination the
final decision of the Commissioner. Ms. Lopez timely appealed
to this Court, which reviews the ALJ's decision as the
Commissioner's final denial of benefits. Doyal v.
Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758, 759 (10th Cir. 2003).
Court offers a brief summary of the facts here and elaborates
as necessary in its analysis below. Ms. Lopez was born in
1961. She was 54 years old as of her amended alleged
disability onset date, April 8, 2016. She has a high school
education and has reported attending two years of college.
She has worked in the past as a furniture assembler, machine
operator, injection mold machinery operator, and bindery
worker. The medical record reflects that she has reported
back and hip pain dating to approximately 2007. She has also
reported swelling in her legs, has had surgery to both legs
related to varicose veins, and has reported other medical
impairments and conditions as identified below. Ms. Lopez
protectively applied for DIB on October 15, 2014, initially
alleging disability beginning in February 2011. At the
hearing before the ALJ, acting through her attorney, she
amended her alleged disability onset date to April 8, 2016.
adjudicating Ms. Lopez's DIB application, the ALJ found
that Ms. Lopez last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on June 30, 2016.
then analyzed Ms. Lopez's application pursuant to the
sequential five-step inquiry. At step one, the ALJ found Ms.
Lopez did not engage in substantial gainful activity during
the period from her alleged onset date, April 8, 2016,
through her date last insured, June 30, 2016. At step two,
the ALJ found Ms. Lopez had the following severe impairments
through the date last insured: lumbar spine degenerative disc
disease and facet osteoarthritis; obesity; gastroesophageal
reflux disease (GERD); obstructive sleep apnea; varicose
veins; and herpes. At step three, the ALJ found Ms. Lopez did
not have any impairment or combination of impairments that
met or equaled the severity of a listed impairment.
then assessed Ms. Lopez's Residual Functional Capacity
(RFC). The ALJ's analysis reviewed the medical records at
length, noting they included only two examinations after Ms.
Lopez's amended alleged disability onset date, but that
the ALJ had reviewed all of the available medical evidence.
(#10 at 20). The ALJ addressed each of Ms.
Lopez's demonstrated impairments and concluded that while
her medically determinable impairments could reasonably be
expected to cause some of her alleged symptoms, that her
statements regarding the intensity and limiting effects of
her symptoms were not entirely consistent with the evidence.
The ALJ found the objective medical evidence did not support
Ms. Lopez's alleged pain or its limiting effects.
determination also considered the opinion of a consulting
examiner, Dr. Ryan Parsons, M.D., who had opined on Ms.
Lopez's various functional limitations. Id. at
24. The ALJ gave “great weight” to Dr.
Parsons's opinion, and consistent with the limitations
noted by Dr. Parsons, the ALJ determined that that through
her date last insured, Ms. Lopez:
had the residual functional capacity to perform medium work
as defined in [20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c)] except [Ms.
Lopez] could stand and walk three hours at a time for a total
eight hours during an eight-hour workday. [Ms. Lopez] could
sit without limitations. [Ms. Lopez] could occasionally lift
and carry seventy-five pounds and frequently lift and carry
fifty pounds. [Ms. Lopez] could frequently stoop, kneel,
crouch, crawl, climb, and balance.
Id. at 19. Given this RFC, the ALJ concluded that
Ms. Lopez was capable of performing her past relevant work,
including as a furniture assembler, machine operator,
injection mold machinery operator, and bindery worker.
Id. at 25. Given this finding, the ALJ found that
during the relevant period, Ms. Lopez was not disabled as
defined by the Social Security Act. Id. at 27.