United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER
E. Blackburn United States District Judge.
matter before me is plaintiff's
Complaint [#1],  filed March 8, 2019, seeking
review of the Commissioner's decision denying
plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income
benefits under Title 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 intermittent explosive
disorder, dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,
antisocial personality disorder, and a 30-year history of
methamphetamine use. After his application for supplemental
security income benefits was denied, plaintiff requested a
hearing before an administrative law judge. This hearing was
held on January 10, 2018. At the time of the hearing,
plaintiff was 54 years old. He has a tenth grade education
and past relevant work experience as a progressive assembler
and fitter of agricultural equipment and as a security guard.
He has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since at
least September 9, 2015, the date of his application for
found plaintiff was not disabled and therefore not entitled
to supplemental security income benefits. Although the
evidence established plaintiff suffered from severe mental
impairments, the judge concluded the severity of those
impairments did not meet or equal any impairment listed in
the social security regulations. The ALJ concluded plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range
of semi-skilled work at all exertional levels but which
required only occasional interaction with coworkers and
supervisors and rare or no interaction with the general
public. Because this finding did not preclude plaintiff's
past relevant work, the ALJ found him not disabled at step
four of the sequential evaluation. Alternatively, the ALJ
found there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national and local economies plaintiff could perform and
therefore also found plaintiff not disabled at step five.
Plaintiff appealed this decision to the Appeals Council. The
Council affirmed. Plaintiff then filed this action in federal
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 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. § 416.920(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 ...