United States District Court, D. Utah, Northern Division
B. Pead United States Magistrate Judge
parties consented to this court's jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. 636(c). (ECF No. 12). Currently pending before the
court is Plaintiff Skylare Wren Salazar's
(“Plaintiff”) appeal of the Commissioner of
Social Security's (“Commissioner”) decision
denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-33. Plaintiff filed his opening brief. (ECF
No. 15). The Commissioner filed her opposition brief. (ECF
No. 16). Plaintiff did not file any reply and the deadline
for doing so has now passed. (See ECF No. 14). The
parties did not request oral argument. Having considered the
parties' briefs, the administrative record, and the
relevant law, this court AFFIRMS the
filed an application for benefits on August 27, 2009,
alleging an onset date of February 8, 2009. (Tr. 133-36). The
application was denied initially on January 26, 2010, and
upon reconsideration on February 10, 2010. (Tr. 66-71). In
2011 Administrative Law Judge Donald R. Jensen denied
Plaintiff's application, but that decision was
subsequently appealed to the District of Utah and then
remanded to the Commissioner. (Tr. 12-23, 587-96). On July
27, 2015, ALJ Jensen issued another decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 509-22). Plaintiff appealed this
second denial to Social Security's Appeals Council. (Tr.
680-81). The Appeals Council declined to exercise
jurisdiction. (Tr. 496-99). Plaintiff then filed the present
was born in 1985. (Tr. 133). Plaintiff completed high school.
(Tr. 521). Plaintiff has past work experience as a hand
packager. (Tr. 171, 520). Plaintiff claims he became disabled
in February 2009, due to depression, bipolar disorder, and
“comprehension inability.” (Tr. 170). Plaintiff
has a history of mental health treatment dating back to 2004.
(See Tr. 238-65).
STATEMENT OF RELEVANT LAW
Definition of Disability Under the Act
states that an individual is disabled “only if his
physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work
but cannot, considering his 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 twelve consecutive
months. Id.; Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S.
212, 214-15 (2002).
Process for Determining Disability Under the Act
determine whether a claimant is disabled, Social Security
regulations set forth a five-step sequential evaluation
process. The adjudicator considers whether a claimant: (1)
engaged in substantial gainful activity during the alleged
disability period, (2) had a severe impairment, (3) had a
condition that met or medically equaled the severity of a
listed impairment, (4) could return to his past relevant
work, and if not (5) could perform other work in the national
economy. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). If a decision
regarding the claimant's disability can be reached at any
step in the sequential evaluation process, further evaluation
is unnecessary. Id.
Standard of Review
district court reviews the Commissioner's decision to
determine whether substantial evidence in the record as a
whole supports the factual findings, and whether the correct
legal standards were applied. Hendron v. Colvin, 767
F.3d 951, 954 (10th Cir. 2014). Substantial evidence
means “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Id. The court may neither reweigh the evidence nor
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Lax v.
Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007). Where the
evidence as a whole can support the agency's decision or
an award of benefits, the court must affirm the agency's
decision. Ellison v. Sullivan, 929 F.2d 534, 536
(10th Cir. 1990).