Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jackson v. Colvin

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

December 9, 2013

LEONARD JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff Leonard Jackson seeks review of a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying his application for disability and disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act and supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Jackson claims that the Commissioner’s decision should be reversed because the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred by assigning little weight to the treating physician’s opinion and the third-party statement of Dana King, the mother of Jackson’s children. Because the Court finds that the ALJ did not err in evaluating the medical opinions and third-party report, the Court orders that the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Jackson was 36 when he was in a car accident July 20, 2007, his alleged disability onset date. Jackson completed three years of college and had worked as a janitor and youth counselor. Jackson was not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period of review.

In his applications for disability and supplemental security income, Jackson alleged that he was unable to work because of neck and back injuries and carpal tunnel in both hands. The agency denied Jackson’s application initially and on reconsideration. Jackson then asked for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

At the administrative hearing in August 2009, Jackson testified about his medical conditions. A vocational expert also testified that Jackson could not perform his past work, but he could perform light work in existing jobs in the unskilled labor market. The ALJ’s decision reflects that he considered reports from Jackson’s treating physician, an independent medical examiner, the agency’s examiner, and Dana King, who identified herself as the mother of Jackson’s children. The ALJ denied Jackson’s request for benefits.

The ALJ found that Jackson last engaged in substantial gainful activity on the alleged disability onset date. The ALJ also found that Jackson had the following severe impairments: “degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine; mild spondylosis of the cervical spine; and a history of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.” After finding that Jackson did not have an impairment equivalent to a listed impairment, the ALJ found that Jackson had the residual functioning capacity to perform light work. The ALJ found that Jackson was unable to perform any of his past relevant work, but a finding of “not disabled” was directed by the Medical-Vocational Rules. Based on Jackson’s age, education, work experience, and residual functioning capacity, the ALJ found that there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Jackson could perform.

The Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council denied Jackson’s request for review in January 2012. Because Jackson has exhausted all administrative remedies available to him, the Commissioner’s decision denying Jackson’s application for benefits is now final and this Court has jurisdiction to review the decision.

II. Legal Standard

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), “[t]he findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.” Upon review, the Court must determine whether substantial evidence supports the factual findings and whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standard.[2] “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.”[3] The Court is not to reweigh the evidence or substitute its opinion for the ALJ.[4] The Court must examine the record as a whole, including whatever in the record detracts from the ALJ’s findings, to determine if the ALJ’s decision is supported by substantial evidence.[5] Evidence is not substantial if it is overwhelmed by other evidence or if it is a mere conclusion.[6]

To establish a disability, a claimant must demonstrate a physical or mental impairment that has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a continuous period of 12 months and an inability to engage in any substantial gainful work existing in the national economy due to the impairment.[7] The ALJ uses a five-step sequential process to evaluate whether a claimant is disabled.[8] The claimant bears the burden during the first four steps.[9]

In steps one and two, the claimant must demonstrate that he is not presently engaged in substantial gainful activity and that he has a medically severe impairment or combination of impairments. “At step three, if a claimant can show that the impairment is equivalent to a listed impairment, he is presumed to be disabled and entitled to benefits.”[10] If, however, the claimant does not establish impairment at step three, the process continues. The ALJ assesses the claimant’s residual functioning capacity, which is an assessment of what an individual can still do despite his or her limitations.[11] At step four, the claimant must demonstrate that his impairment prevents him from performing his past work.[12] The Commissioner has the burden at the fifth step to demonstrate that work exists in the national economy within the claimant’s residual functioning capacity.[13] The residual functioning capacity assessment is used to evaluate the claim at both steps four and five.[14]

III. Analysis

Jackson argues that the ALJ erred in giving little weight to his treating physician’s opinion and erred by giving little weight to King’s third-party statement. The Commissioner contends that the ALJ properly considered the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.