United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER
E. BLACKBURN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter before me is plaintiff's
Complaint [#1],  filed December 27, 2018,
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision denying
plaintiff's claims for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income benefits under Titles II and XVI
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et
seq. I have jurisdiction to review the
Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). The matter has been fully briefed, obviating the need
for oral argument. I affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
alleges he is disabled as a result of panic disorder with
agoraphobia. After his applications for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income benefits were
denied, plaintiff requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge. This hearing was held on October
26, 2017. At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was 25 years
old. He has at least a high school education and past
relevant work experience as a bicycle assembler and a porter.
He has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since at
least November 30, 2015, his alleged date of onset.
found plaintiff was not disabled and therefore not entitled
to disability insurance benefits or supplemental security
income benefits. Although the medical evidence established
plaintiff suffered from a severe mental impairment,
judge found the severity of that impairment did not meet or
equal any impairment listed in the social security
regulations. The ALJ determined plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity to perform a range of simple, routine,
medium work which required no contact with the general public
and only limited contact with coworkers and supervisors.
Although this conclusion precluded plaintiff's past
relevant work, the ALJ found there were other jobs existing
in substantial numbers in the national and local economies he
could perform. He therefore found plaintiff not disabled at
step five of the sequential evaluation. Plaintiff appealed
this decision to the Appeals Council. The Council affirmed.
Plaintiff then filed this action in federal court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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).
Commissioner has established a quinquepartite sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a claimant is
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 her 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. Bowen844 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, 107 S.Ct. 2287, 2294 n.5, 96 L.Ed.2d
119 (1987). The burden then shifts to the Commissioner to
show 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 ...