United States District Court, D. Kansas
SHERYL L. COSS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MURGUIA United States District Judge
Sheryl L. Coss claims that she became disabled on June 3,
2013. She suffers from heart problems, diabetes, an aneurysm,
depression, elbow problems, eye problems, and sleep apnea.
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since June 2013, after undergoing coronary bypass surgery.
She filed this action pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401
et seq., requesting disability benefits.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that
plaintiff was not disabled in a decision issued in November
2015, which stands as the final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security. Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in
several ways: (1) he failed to properly weigh the medical
opinions; (2) he unreasonably discounted plaintiff's
credibility; and (3) he improperly held that she was capable
of returning to her past work. After reviewing the record,
the court makes the following rulings.
court applies a two-pronged review to the ALJ's decision:
(1) Are the factual findings supported by substantial
evidence in the record? (2) Did the ALJ apply the correct
legal standards? Lax v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084
(10th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). “Substantial
evidence” is a term of art. It means “more than a
mere scintilla” and “‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Hunter v. Astrue,
321 F. App'x 789, 792 (10th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Flaherty v. Astrue, 515 F.3d 1067, 1070 (10th Cir.
2007)). When evaluating whether the standard has been met,
the court is limited; it may not reweigh the evidence or
replace the ALJ's judgment with its own. Bellamy v.
Massanari, 29 F. App'x 567, 569 (10th Cir. 2002)
(citing Kelley v. Chater, 62 F.3d 335, 337 (10th
Cir. 1995)). On the other hand, the court must examine the
entire record-including any evidence that may detract from
the decision of the ALJ. Jaramillo v. Massanari, 21
F. App'x 792, 794 (10th Cir. 2001) (citing Glenn v.
Shalala, 21 F.3d 983, 984 (10th Cir. 1994)).
bears the burden of proving disability. Hunter, 321
F. App'x at 792. A disability requires an
impairment-physical or mental-that causes one to be unable to
engage in any substantial gainful activity. Id.
(quoting Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 217
(2002)). Impairment, as defined under 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A), is a “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.” The ALJ uses a
five-step sequential process to evaluate disability claims.
Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750 (10th Cir.
1988) (citation omitted). But the ALJ may stop once he makes
a disability determination; he does not need to continue
through subsequent steps if he is able to find a claimant
disabled or not disabled at an intermediate step.
components of the five-step process are:
. Step One: The plaintiff must demonstrate
that she is not engaged in substantial gainful employment
activity. Id. If the plaintiff meets this burden,
then the ALJ moves to Step Two.
. Step Two: The plaintiff must demonstrate
that she has a “medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments” that severely limits her
ability to do work. Id. (internal quotation
o If the plaintiffs impairments have no more than a minimal
effect on her ability to do work, then the ALJ can make a
nondisability determination at this step.
o If the plaintiff makes a sufficient showing that her
impairments are more than minimal, then the ALJ moves to Step
. Step Three: The ALJ compares the
impairment to the “listed
impairments”-impairments that the Secretary of Health
and Human Services recognizes as severe enough to preclude
substantial gainful activity. Id. . At 751.
o If the impairments) match one on the list, then the ALJ
makes a disability finding. Id.
o If an impairment is not listed, the ALJ moves to Step Four
of the ...