United States District Court, D. Utah
District Judge Robert J. Shelby
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CECILIA M. ROMERO, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Marsha K., pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), filed this
action asking this Courtto reverse or remand the final agency
decision denying her Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act. The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
determined that she did not qualify as disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act. (ECF 14, Certified
Administrative Transcript, (Tr.) 65-91). Having carefully
considered the parties' memoranda and the complete record
in this matter, the undersigned recommends the Court AFFIRM
the Commissioner's decision.
was 36 years old in September 2013, when she claimed
disability due to fibromyalgia and anxiety (Tr.
283). She completed the 10th grade and had past
relevant work as a label maker, stores laborer, cable
re-winder, and food service worker (Tr. 284).
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process for
evaluating disability claims (Tr. 68-85). See20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The ALJ found that Plaintiff
had a severe impairment (left knee patellofemoral syndrome)
but that her impairment did not meet or equal the severity of
a listed impairment (Tr. 70-71). The ALJ then found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform sedentary work with additional limitations (Tr.
72-83). Consistent with a vocational expert's testimony,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform other jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy (Tr.
83-85). The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had failed to
establish disability under the Act (Tr. 85).
Appeals Council then denied Plaintiff's request for
review (Tr. 1-6), making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial
review. See20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981;
422.210(a). This appeal followed.
Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the
record as a whole contains substantial evidence in support of
the ALJ's factual findings and whether the SSA applied
the correct legal standards. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Lax
v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007). The
threshold for evidentiary sufficiency under the substantial
evidence standard is “not high.” Biestek v.
Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019).While
substantial evidence is “more than a mere scintilla,
” it means only “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotations and citations
omitted). Under this deferential standard, this Court may
neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for
that of the ALJ. Hendron v. Colvin, 767 F.3d 951,
954 (10th Cir. 2014).
Social Security Act (“Act”) defines
“disability” as the “inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Moreover, the
Act considers an individual 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.”
Id. § 423(d)(2)(A).
determining whether a claimant qualifies as disabled, the SSA
employs a five-part sequential evaluation. See20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The analysis evaluates whether:
(1) The claimant presently engages in substantial gainful
(2) The claimant has a medically severe physical or mental
impairment or impairments;
(3) The impairment is equivalent to one of the impairments
listed in the appendix of the relevant disability regulation
which preclude substantial gainful activity;
(4) The impairment prevents the claimant from performing his
or her past work; and
(5) The claimant possesses a residual functional capacity to
perform other work in the national economy considering his or
her age, education, and work experience.
See Id. The claimant has the initial burden of
establishing the disability in the first four steps. Ray
v. Bowen, 865 F.2d 222, 224 (10th Cir. 1989). At step
five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the
claimant retains the ability to ...