United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
M. WARNER, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
parties in this case have consented to Chief Magistrate Judge
Paul M. Warner conducting all proceedings, including entry of
final judgment, with appeal to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  See 28 U.S.C. §
636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Before the court is Cheryl H.'s
(“Plaintiff”) appeal of the Commissioner's
final decision determining that Plaintiff was not entitled to
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act, see 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act, see id. §§ 1381-1383f.
December 11, 2012, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI,
alleging disability beginning on March 15, 2010.
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration.  On July 16, 2013, Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”),  and that hearing was held on March 11,
2014.  On June 2, 2014, the ALJ issued a written
decision denying Plaintiff's claims for DIB and SSI.
August 22, 2014, the Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's
request for review and remanded the case to the ALJ for
additional proceedings. 
second hearing was held on September 29, 2015.  On December 23,
2015, the ALJ issued a second decision denying
Plaintiff's claims for DIB and SSI.  On July 20,
2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review,  making t h e A LJ 's second decision
the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of
judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
Plaintiff then brought the instant action to appeal that
court “review[s] the Commissioner's decision to
determine whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record and whether the correct
legal standards were applied.” Lax v. Astrue,
489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (quotations and citation
omitted). The Commissioner's findings, “if
supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. It requires more than a scintilla, but less than
a preponderance.” Lax, 489 F.3d at 1084
(quotations and citation omitted). “In reviewing the
ALJ's decision, [this court may] neither reweigh the
evidence nor substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[ALJ].” Madrid v. Barnhart, 447 F.3d 788, 790
(10th Cir. 2006) (quotations and citation omitted).
“The failure to apply the correct legal standard or to
provide this court with a sufficient basis to determine that
appropriate legal principles have been followed [are] grounds
for reversal.” Jensen v. Barnhart, 436 F.3d
1163, 1165 (10th Cir. 2005) (quotations and citation
five-step evaluation process has been established for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. 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, 750-51 (10th Cir. 1988) (discussing the
five-step process). If a determination can be made at any one
of the steps that a claimant is or is not disabled, the
subsequent steps need not be analyzed. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).
Step one determines whether the claimant is presently engaged
in substantial gainful activity. If [the claimant] is,
disability benefits are denied. If [the claimant] is not, the
decision maker must proceed to step two: determining whether
the claimant has a medically severe impairment or combination
of impairments. . . . If the claimant is unable to show that
his impairments would have more than a minimal effect on his
ability to do basic work activities, he is not eligible for
disability benefits. If, on the other hand, the claimant
presents medical evidence and makes the de minimis
showing of medical severity, the decision maker proceeds to
Williams, 844 F.2d at 750-51 (quotations and
citations omitted); see 20 C.F.R. §§
three determines whether the impairment is equivalent to one
of a number of listed impairments that . . . are so severe as
to preclude substantial gainful activity . . . . If the
impairment is listed and thus conclusively presumed to be
disabling, the claimant is entitled to benefits. If not, the
evaluation proceeds to the fourth step . . . .”
Williams, 844 F.2d at 751 (quotations and citations
omitted); see 20 C.F.R. §§
fourth step, the claimant must show that the impairment
prevents performance of his “past relevant work.”
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv).
“If the claimant is able to perform his previous work,
he is not disabled.” Williams, 844 F.2d at
751. If, however, the claimant is not able to perform his
previous work, he “has met his burden of proof,
establishing a prima facie case of disability.”
point, “[t]he evaluation process . . . proceeds to the
fifth and final step.” Id. At this step, the
burden of proof shifts to the Commissioner, and the decision
maker must determine “whether the claimant has the
residual functional capacity [(“RFC”)] . . . to
perform other work in the national economy in view of his
age, education, and work experience.” Id.;
see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v),
416.920(a)(4)(v). If it is determined that the claimant
“can make an adjustment to other work, ” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v), he
is not disabled.
the other hand, it is determined that the claimant
“cannot make an adjustment to other work, ” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v), he
is disabled and entitled to benefits.
support of her claim that the Commissioner's decision
should be reversed, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by
(1) failing to properly evaluate certain medical opinions and
(2) failing to account for Plaintiff's alleged impairment
of edema. The court will address those arguments in turn.