United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
NANCY A. BERRYHILL
L. HORNSBY U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
(“Plaintiff”) was 56 years old when she filed an
application for supplemental security income. She reported
completing the 11th grade and earning a GED. Her previous
jobs included housekeeper and maintenance worker, but she did
not have any past relevant work within the meaning of the
regulations. Plaintiff contended that she was disabled based
on impairments including hip and spine problems,
gastrointestinal reflux disease (“GERD”), and
John Antonowicz held an evidentiary hearing and issued a
written decision that found that Plaintiff was not disabled.
The Appeals Council denied a request for review, which made
the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. Plaintiff then filed this civil action to seek
the limited judicial review that is available pursuant to 42
USC §405(g). The parties filed written consent to have a
decision issued by a magistrate judge, and the case was
referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 USC § 636(c).
For the reasons that follow, the Commissioner's decision
to deny benefits will be affirmed.
of the ALJ's Decision
analyzed Plaintiff's claim under the five-step sequential
analysis established in the regulations. See Perez v.
Barnhart, 415 F.3d 457, 461 (5th Cir. 2005). He found at
step one that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since her May 22, 2015 application date. At
step two, he found that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: degenerative joint disease of the right shoulder
and right hip, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine,
GERD, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, moderate somatic
symptom disorder with persistent pain, and gastritis and
duodenitis. None of the impairments were found to meet or
medically equal a listed impairment at step three.
next determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium work, subject
to a number of limitations on reaching overhead, handling
items, crouching and kneeling, climbing ladders, balancing,
and the like. He also included in the RFC findings that
Plaintiff can understand, remember, and carry out three-step
instructions; can perform simple and routine tasks; can make
simple work-related decisions; can tolerate few if any
workplace changes; and can sustain only occasional
interaction with coworkers and supervisors and no interaction
with the general public.
found at step four that Plaintiff did not have past relevant
work within the meaning of the regulations. He heard
testimony from a vocational expert (“VE”)
relevant to the step five issue of whether Plaintiff could
perform the demands of other jobs. The VE identified
representative occupations coffee maker, laundry laborer, and
kitchen helper. The ALJ accepted that testimony and found at
step five that Plaintiff was not disabled.
brief identifies two issues for appeal:
1. The ALJ's RFC determination is not supported by
substantial evidence because he did not explain the rejection
of limitations included within consultative examiner Dr.
2. The ALJ's finding that Plaintiff has a high school
education is conclusory and not supported by substantial
of Review; Substantial Evidence
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
limited to two inquiries: (1) whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole,
and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the proper legal
standard. Perez, 415 F.3d at 461. “Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla and less than a
preponderance.” Masterson v. Barnhart, 309
F.3d 267, 272 (5th Cir. 2002). It is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Greenspan v. Shalala,
38 F.3d 232, 236 (5th Cir. 1994). A finding of no substantial
evidence is justified only if there ...