United States District Court, D. Colorado
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Y. Wang United States Magistrate Judge
civil action arises under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-33, for
review of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration's (“Commissioner” or
“Defendant”) final decision denying Plaintiff
Michael Thompson's (“Plaintiff” or “Mr.
Thompson”) application for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”). Pursuant to the Parties'
consent [#14], this civil action was referred to this
Magistrate Judge for a decision on the merits. See
[#22]; 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73;
D.C.COLO.LCivR 72.2. Upon review of the Parties'
briefing, the entire case file, the Administrative Record,
and the applicable case law, this court respectfully
REVERSES AND REMANDS the Commissioner's
individual is eligible for DIB benefits under the Act if he
is insured, has not attained retirement age, has filed an
application for DIB, and is under a disability as defined in
the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1). An individual is
determined to be under a disability only if her
“physical or mental impairment or impairments are of
such severity that [s]he is not only unable to do [her]
previous work but cannot, considering [her] age, education,
and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national economy. . .
.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). The disabling
impairment must last, or be expected to last, for at least 12
consecutive months. See Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S.
212, 214-15 (2002). Additionally, the claimant must prove she
was disabled prior to her date last insured. Flaherty v.
Astrue, 515 F.3d 1067, 1069 (10th Cir. 2007).
Commissioner has developed a five-step evaluation process for
determining whether a claimant is disabled under the Act. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). These
1. Whether the claimant has engaged in substantial gainful
2. Whether the claimant has a medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments;
3. Whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
medically equals any listing found at Title 20, Chapter III,
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;
4. Whether the claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”) to perform her past relevant work; and
5. Whether the claimant can perform work that exists in the
national economy, considering the claimant's RFC, age,
education, and work experience.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v),
416.920(a)(4)(i)-(v). See also Williams v. Bowen,
844 F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988) (describing the five
steps in detail). “The claimant bears the burden of
proof through step four of the analysis[, ]” while the
Commissioner bears the burden of proof at step five.
Neilson v. Sullivan, 992 F.2d 1118, 1120 (10th Cir.
1993). “If a determination can be made at any of the
steps that a claimant is or is not disabled, evaluation under
a subsequent step is not necessary.” Lax v.
Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
reviewing the Commissioner's final decision, the court
limits its inquiry to whether substantial evidence supports
the final decision and whether the Commissioner applied the
correct legal standards. See Vallejo v. Berryhill,
849 F.3d 951, 954 (10th Cir. 2017). “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, 515 F.3d at
1070 (internal citation omitted); accord Musgrave v.
Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1371, 1374 (10th Cir. 1992)
(“Evidence is not substantial if it is overwhelmed by
other evidence in the record or constitutes mere
conclusion.”). “But in making this determination,
[the court] cannot reweigh the evidence or substitute [its]
judgment for the administrative law judge's.”
Smith v. Colvin, 821 F.3d 1264, 1266 (10th Cir.
Medical and Non-Medical History
Thompson, born May 8, 1968, alleges he became disabled March
10, 2016, at 47 years-of-age, due to severe persistent
chronic asthma, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, acid
reflux, chronic sinusitis, osteoporosis, cardiomyopathy, and
allergies. See [#11-6 at 181; #15 at
6].When Mr. Thompson applied for disability
benefits, he did not indicate illiteracy or a learning
disability as a condition or conditions contributing to his
disability. Rather, he reported that he could read and
understand English and he could write more than his name in
English, and a face-to-face interview also revealed no
observed or perceived difficulties in Plaintiff's ability
to read or write. [#11-6 at 177-78, 180]. Nevertheless, on
appeal, Mr. Thompson ...