LOYD W. NEAL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
COMMISSIONER, SSA, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 1:17-CV-00203-LTB, D. Colo.
HOLMES, BACHARACH, and McHUGH, Circuit Judges.
ORDER AND JUDGMENT [*]
E. Bacharach, Circuit Judge
appeal, Mr. Loyd W. Neal challenges the Social Security
Administration's denial of insurance benefits based on an
alleged disability. The proceedings began in 2012 when Mr.
Neal applied for benefits. This application led to two
hearings; both led to decisions that Mr. Neal was not
appeal involves the second of these administrative decisions.
In that decision, the agency found that Mr. Neal was not
disabled because he could perform work existing in
substantial numbers, such as a small products assembler,
cleaner, router clerk, or mail sorter. Mr. Neal appealed to
the district court, which affirmed. Mr. Neal now appeals to
our court, and we affirm.
Standard of Review
engage in de novo review, using our independent judgment to
determine whether the administrative law judge committed a
legal error and had substantial evidence for her decision.
Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir.
2009). The evidence is substantial if it is relevant and
could reasonably be regarded as adequate for a given finding.
Wilson v. Astrue, 602 F.3d 1136, 1140 (10th Cir.
2010). To determine whether the evidence is substantial, we
do not weigh it ourselves; that task is entrusted to the
administrative law judge. Vigil v. Colvin, 805 F.3d
1199, 1201 (10th Cir. 2015).
Residual Functional Capacity
weighing the evidence, the administrative law judge had to
assess Mr. Neal's "residual functional
capacity," which refers to the activities that he could
perform despite his limitations. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1545(a)(1). In carrying out this assessment, the
administrative law judge found that Mr. Neal could perform
most work described as "light." See id.
§ 404.1567(b). Mr. Neal challenges these findings,
arguing that the administrative law judge improperly
interpreted medical tests and omitted a need for frequent
breaks and changes in position.
Neal faults the administrative law judge for
"attempt[ing] to interpret the significance of the
clinical examination findings by Dr. Langlois."
Appellant's Opening Br. at 10. But the judge did not
overreach, "interpret raw medical data," or
"step into the shoes of a medical examiner," as
Mr. Neal suggests. Id. at 11-12. The judge instead
analyzed the various medical reports and found Dr.
Langlois's assessment less persuasive than others.
Neal also challenges the administrative law judge's
findings, arguing that they improperly omitted the need to
take frequent breaks based on post-traumatic stress disorder
and physical problems involving his left shoulder and lower
extremities. We reject these arguments.
Neal asserts that he needed frequent breaks based on his
post-traumatic stress disorder, but he does not explain why
or refer to supporting evidence. Mr. Neal's bare
assertion is inadequately developed. See Bronson v.
Swensen, 500 F.3d 1099, 1104 (10th Cir. 2007)
("[W]e routinely have declined to consider arguments
that are not raised, or are inadequately presented, in an
appellant's opening brief.").
Neal more thoroughly develops his argument involving physical
problems with his shoulder and lower extremities. According
to Mr. Neal, these physical problems required frequent
breaks. For this argument, Mr. Neal relies on medical
opinions by two physicians, Mary Langlois, M.D. and
Christopher Davis, D.O., as well as a prescription by Jill
Langlois is a physician for the Department of Veterans
Affairs who examined Mr. Neal one time in January 2013. Based
on this examination, Dr. Langlois found a need to take
frequent breaks for standing and moving around. The
administrative law judge discounted this opinion, reasoning
in part that Dr. Langlois had
. arrived at her opinion after only a single
examination and a review of medical records,
. relied on Mr. Neal's own statements
about his limitations, and
. noted only minimal reductions in Mr.
Neal's range of motion for his knee.
addition, the administrative law judge relied on Dr.