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Williams v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

May 16, 2018

KAREY WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Brooke C. Wells United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the undersigned pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 and the parties' consent.[1] Plaintiff Karey Williams alleges disability beginning on March 1, 2012[2]due to migraines, fibromyalgia, extreme fatigue, weakness of muscles, body and nerve pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia and mental issues.[3] Ms. Williams appeared and testified at a hearing held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on May 15, 2015. Following the hearing, the ALJ concluded Ms. Williams was not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act.[4] The agency's Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, rending the ALJ's decision final.[5] This appeal followed.

         The court heard argument on Plaintiff's appeal where Glen A. Cook appeared for Plaintiff and James L. Burgess appeared for Defendant. Having considered the parties' arguments and briefing along with relevant case law, the court concludes the ALJ committed legal error by not engaging in an equivalency analysis for Ms. Williams' migraines. Therefore this matter is remanded to conduct such an analysis.

         BACKGROUND[6]

         Plaintiff applied for disability, disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on March 20 and April 1, 2013 respectively. She alleges disability due to migraines, fibromyalgia, extreme fatigue, weakness of muscles, body and nerve pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia and mental issues.[7]

         The ALJ followed the standard five-step sequential evaluation process for disability claims.[8] The ALJ found Ms. Williams had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, migraine headaches, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and tremors.[9] Next no impairment, or combination of impairments, was found to equal a listing despite arguments made to the contrary.[10] After determining that Ms. Williams had the residual functional capacity to perform a range of light work with certain limitations, [11] the ALJ found Ms. Williams could not perform her past work as a sales manager and life coach. But, at step five, relying on the vocational expert testimony, the ALJ found she could perform the jobs of office helper (8, 000 jobs) and routing clerk (42, 000 jobs). Thus, Ms. Williams was not disabled.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because the Appeals Council denied the claimant's requested review the ALJ's decision is considered the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this appeal.[12] The court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the correct legal standards were applied and whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.[13] “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”[14]“A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it.”[15] In considering claimant's appeal the court may “neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute [its] judgment for that of the agency.”[16]

         DISCUSSION

         On appeal Ms. Williams raises a multitude of arguments.[17] Specifically, she asserts the following issues:

1. Did the Administrative Law Judge fail to consider all of the Listings of Impairments?
2. Is the Residual Functional Capacity Assessment in the ALJ Decision the same as that given at the hearing; is it consistent with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) limitations which were accepted by the ALJ; is it complete?
3. Did the ALJ fail to complete an analysis of the number of jobs pursuant to Trimiar?
4. Is the credibility analysis incomplete and factually incorrect?
5. Did the ALJ fail to comply with 20 CFR 416.927 in not according adequate weight to the opinion of the plaintiff's treating physician and placing undue reliance upon the opinions of the DDS physicians?

         The court agrees with Plaintiff's first issue, the ALJ failed to consider all the Listings and this necessitates a remand. Having reached this conclusion the court need ...


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