United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER
REID NEUREITER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
government determined that Plaintiff Drenda May Dominguez
Horton was not disabled for purposes of the Social Security
Act. (AR 21.) Ms. Dominguez 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). (Dkt. #15.)
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 Ms. Dominguez
“has the following severe impairments: labral tear and
tendinopathy of the left hip, lumbar spondylosis, obesity,
and diabetes with neuropathy.” (AR 14.) Ms.
Dominguez's medically determinable impairments of upper
gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to acute ulcers; alcohol
abuse with inactive cirrhosis of the liver with ascites;
reactive airway disease; major depressive disorder;
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and alcohol
dependence, in remission, were found to not be severe
then determined at step three that Ms. Dominguez “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 15- 16.) Because
he concluded that Ms. Dominguez did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets the severity of the
listed impairments, the ALJ found that Ms. Dominguez has the
following residual functional capacity (“RFC”):
. . . [Ms. Dominguez] has the residual functional capacity to
perform a reduced range of sedentary work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) meaning she can lift and carry
up to ten pounds occasionally and less than ten pounds
frequently; she can stand and/or walk for two hours in an
eight-hour day; she can sit for six hours in an eight-hour
day; she needs a cane for standing and walking; she can never
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; she can occasionally
stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl; and she can occasionally
climb ramps or stairs.
concluded that Ms. Dominguez was capable of performing past
relevant work as an accounts payable coordinator. (AR 21.)
Accordingly, Ms. Dominguez was deemed not to have been under
a disability from February 1, 2016, through June 5, 2018, the
date of the decision. (Id.)
Dominguez argues that the ALJ's decision should be
reversed because his finding that Ms. Dominguez was not
disabled is not supported by substantial evidence.
Specifically, Ms. Dominguez contends that the ALJ failed to
adequately weigh the medical evidence and opinions and did
not properly consider the combined effects of her
impairments, including those determined to be nonsevere. Ms.
Dominguez also argues that the ALJ improperly discounted her
subjective complaints. Ms. Dominguez asks the Court to remand
the case for an immediate payment of benefits. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will reverse and remand
for further proceedings.
Dominguez argues that the ALJ's conclusion that her
mental impairments were not severe is unreasonable and
unsupported by the record. Ms. Dominguez challenges the
ALJ's decision to give only minimal weight to the medical
opinions of the two providers who specifically addressed her
mental impairments: LeAnna DeAngelo, Ph.D., and Mark
Suyeishi, Psy.D. (AR 20.) The Court agrees with Ms.
evaluating Ms. Dominguez's mental impairments at step
two, the ALJ considered whether the four areas of
functioning, known as the “paragraph B” criteria,
were satisfied. (AR 14.) To satisfy the “paragraph
B” criteria, the mental impairments must result in at
least one extreme or two marked limitations ...