United States District Court, D. Colorado
JAMES D. RIDDLE, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Reid Neureiter United States Magistrate Judge
government determined that Plaintiff James D. Riddle was not
disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act for the
period from December 1, 2021 through August 9, 2018, the date
of the decision. AR 21 Mr. Riddle 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. #16.
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 Mr. Riddle
“has the following severe impairments: degenerative
disc disease of the lumbar spine and left upper extremity
epicondylitis and cubital tunnel syndrome.” AR 14. The
ALJ determined that Mr. Riddle had the following non-severe
impairments: cervical and thoracic degenerative disc disease,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, headaches, and depressive
disorder. AR 15.
then determined at step three that Mr. Riddle “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 16. Because he
concluded that Mr. Riddle did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets the severity of the
listed impairments, the ALJ found that Mr. Riddle has the
following residual functional capacity (“RFC”):
. . . the claimant [Mr. Riddle] has the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), except that the claimant can
occasionally bend, squat, and kneel. He can occasionally do
over chest level work.
concluded that Mr. Riddle was unable to perform any past
relevant work. AR 19. At step five, the ALJ found that,
considering Mr. Riddle's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy that he can perform, including
addressing clerk, final assembler, and surveillance system
monitor. AR 20. Accordingly, Mr. Riddle was deemed not to
have been under a disability from the alleged onset date of
December 1, 2012, through August 9, 2018, the date of the
decision. AR 21.
Riddle argues that the ALJ's decision should be reversed
and the matter remanded for a rehearing because he erred as a
matter of law by failing to apply the de minimis Step 2
standard to determine that Mr. Riddle's headaches were
not a severe impairment, and failing to include any headache
related limitations in the RFC. Mr. Riddle also argues that
the ALJ's credibility finding is generally defective. For
the reasons outline below, the Court agrees that the ALJ did
not properly address all the evidence relating to Mr.
Mr. Riddle's Headaches
Riddle argues that the ALJ should have considered his
headaches as a severe impairment because he made a more than
de minimis showing that his headaches had a limiting effect
on his ability to work. However, the ALJ found that Mr.
Riddle had other impairments that were severe, which means
that even if it was error to determine that Mr. Riddle's