United States District Court, D. Arizona
S. Willett United States Magistrate Judge
before the Court is Clifford Lee Begay's
(“Plaintiff”) appeal of the Social Security
Administration's (“Social Security”) denial
of his claim for supplemental security income. The Court has
jurisdiction to decide Plaintiff's appeal pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c). Under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), the Court has the power to enter, based upon the
pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming,
modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security, with or without remanding the case for a
rehearing. Both parties have consented to the exercise of
U.S. Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (Doc. 19).
reviewing the Administrative Record (“A.R.”) and
the parties' briefing (Docs. 22, 23, 24), the Court finds
that the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”)
decision is supported by substantial evidence and is free of
harmful legal error. The decision is therefore affirmed.
Disability Analysis: Five-Step Evaluation
Social Security Act (the “Act”) provides for
supplemental security income to certain individuals who are
aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled and have limited income.
42 U.S.C. § 1382. To be eligible for benefits based on
an alleged disability, the claimant must show that he or she
suffers from a medically determinable physical or mental
impairment that prohibits him or her from engaging in any
substantial gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A);
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(A)(3)(A). The claimant must also show
that the impairment is expected to cause death or last for a
continuous period of at least 12 months. Id.
decide if a claimant is entitled to Social Security benefits,
an ALJ conducts an analysis consisting of five questions,
which are considered in sequential steps. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a). The claimant has the
burden of proof regarding the first four steps:
Step One : Is the claimant engaged
in “substantial gainful activity”? If so, the
analysis ends and disability benefits are denied. Otherwise,
the ALJ proceeds to step two.
Step Two: Does the claimant have a
medically severe impairment or combination of impairments? A
severe impairment is one which significantly limits the
claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c).
If the claimant does not have a severe impairment or
combination of impairments, disability benefits are denied at
this step. Otherwise, the ALJ proceeds to step three.
Step Three: Is the impairment
equivalent to one of a number of listed impairments that the
Commissioner acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity? 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If the impairment meets or equals
one of the listed impairments, the claimant is conclusively
presumed to be disabled. If the impairment is not one that is
presumed to be disabling, the ALJ proceeds to the fourth step
of the analysis.
Step Four: Does the impairment
prevent the claimant from performing work which the claimant
performed in the past? If not, the claimant is “not
disabled” and disability benefits are denied without
continuing the analysis. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f),
416.920(f). Otherwise, the ALJ proceeds to the last step.
analysis proceeds to the final question, the burden of proof
shifts to the Commissioner:
Step Five: Can the claimant perform
other work in the national economy in light of his or her
age, education, and work experience? The claimant is entitled
to disability benefits only if he or she is unable to perform
other work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g).
Social Security is responsible for providing evidence that
demonstrates that other work exists in significant numbers in
the national economy that the claimant can do, given the
claimant's residual functional capacity, age, education,
and work experience. Id.
Standard of Review Applicable to ...