United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. WARNER Chief United States Magistrate Judge
Judge Dee Benson referred this case to Chief Magistrate Judge
Paul M. Warner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). Before the court is Vincent G. '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. After careful consideration of the
written briefs and the complete record, the court has
determined that oral argument is not necessary in this case.
alleges disability due to various physical impairments. On
March 26, 2014, Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging
disability beginning on December 1, 2011. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. On December 10, 2014, Plaintiff requested
a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). That hearing was held on July 15,
2016. On September 15, 2016, the ALJ issued a
written decision denying Plaintiff's claim for
On August 18, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, making t h e A LJ 's
decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes
of judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); 20
C.F.R. § 404.981. On October 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed
his complaint in this case seeking review of the
Commissioner's final decision.
A f i v
e -step evaluation process has been established for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v); see also Williams v.
Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-51 (10th Cir. 1988) (discussing
the five-step process). This court reviews the
Commissioner's final 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
support of his claim that the ALJ's decision should be
reversed, Plaintiff argues generally that the decision is not
supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, Plaintiff
asserts that the ALJ erred by failing to discuss some
examination findings from April 2014 (“April 2014
Examination”) and the results of a lower back MRI from
January 2011 (“January 2011 MRI”).For the
following reasons, the court concludes that Plaintiff's
directly contrary to Plaintiff's argument, the ALJ's
decision specifically discusses both the April 2014
Examination and the January 2011 MRI. For that
reason alone, the court must conclude that Plaintiff's
argument is fundamentally flawed and without merit.
the court concludes that Plaintiff's argument is nothing
more than an attempt to reargue the weight of the evidence
before the ALJ. That is an unavailing tactic on appeal. It is
not this court's role to reweigh the evidence before the
ALJ. See Madrid, 447 F.3d at 790. From an
evidentiary standpoint, the only issue relevant to the court
is whether substantial evidence exists in the record to
support the ALJ's conclusions. See Oldham v.
Astrue, 509 F.3d 1254, 1257 (10th Cir. 2007) (providing
that the court reviewing the ALJ's decision reviews
“only the sufficiency of the evidence, not its
weight”) (emphasis omitted); see also Lax, 489
F.3d at 1084 (“The possibility of drawing two
inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent
an administrative agency's findings from being supported
by substantial evidence. We may not displace the
agenc[y's] choice between two fairly conflicting views,
even though the court would justifiably have made a different
choice had the matter been before it de novo.”)
(quotations and citations omitted) (alteration in original).
on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that the
Commissioner's decision in this case be AFFIRMED. Copies
of this Report and Recommendation are being sent to all
parties, who are hereby notified of their right to object.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
The parties must file any objection to this Report and
Recommendation within fourteen (14) days after being served
with a copy of it. See 28 ...