United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND
M. VIRDEN U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Defendant's motion  to
alter or amend the April 25, 2019, Final Judgment ,
brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). The parties have
consented to entry of final judgment by the United States
Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit. The Court having considered the briefing of the
parties and applicable law finds the motion well taken in
part and concludes the April 25 judgment should be vacated
for the reasons set out below.
Court's April 25 judgment  reversed the decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security on Plaintiff's
disability applications and remanded the case for further
proceedings. Pursuant to the Court's oral ruling and
Final Judgment , the Court found
the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence in the record. The ALJ's determination at step
two of the sequential evaluation process that the
claimant's tremor was non-severe is not supported by
substantial evidence in the record. Treatment notes dated
November 18, 2014, indicate the claimant was assessed with a
“moderate tremor” of the left and right arms and
prescribed Neurontin. Furthermore, medical records from the
claimant's treater and the report of the consultative
examiner, respectively, indicate the claimant exhibited a
tremor (while writing) and coarse shaking (while touching his
toes) of his upper extremities, and the claimant consistently
complained he shook uncontrollably and testified he dropped
food while attempting to eat. This error was prejudicial to
the claimant in view of the ALJ's failure to consider the
claimant's tremor while crafting an RFC and before
concluding the claimant was capable of a full range of light
work activity-which could require significant reaching and
handling in many cases. Cf. Loza v. Apfel, 219 F.3d
378 (5th Cir. 2000) (reversing and remanding case to district
court with instructions to vacate Commissioner's decision
where there was a step two error and case had proceeded to
addition to the foregoing, the Court included a list of
instructions for specific proceedings the ALJ must conduct on
instant motion, the Commissioner makes two arguments: (1) the
Court erred when it determined substantial evidence did not
support the ALJ's step two finding that Plaintiff's
tremor was not a severe impairment and, alternatively, (2)
the Court's remand instructions invade the province of
the ALJ to decide how to develop the record and assess
Plaintiff's RFC. While the Court rejects the
Commissioner's argument that it erred with respect to its
determination that the ALJ committed error at step two, the
Court, nevertheless, reverses its prior conclusion that this
error was prejudicial to the claimant and now concludes-for
reasons outlined by the Commissioner-that substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's RFC determination and
ultimate finding of not disabled.
59(e) permits a litigant to file a motion to alter or amend a
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) (“A motion to alter or
amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after
the entry of the judgment.”). A motion for
reconsideration “is not the proper vehicle for
rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could
have been offered or raised before the entry of
judgment.” Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d
473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004). Instead, Rule 59(e) serves the
narrow purpose of allowing a party to bring errors or newly
discovered evidence to the Court's attention. See In
re Rodriguez, 695 F.3d 360, 371 (5th Cir. 2012).
Review of Social Security Cases
review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to two
inquiries: (1) whether substantial evidence in the record
supports the Commissioner's decision and (2) whether the
decision comports with proper legal standards. See Villa
v. Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1990).
“Substantial evidence 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) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d
842 (1971)). “It is more than a mere scintilla, and
less than a preponderance.” Spellman v.
Shalala, 1 F.3d 357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993) (citing
Moore v. Sullivan, 919 F.2d 901, 904 (5th Cir.
1990)). “A decision is supported by substantial
evidence if ‘credible evidentiary choices or medical
findings support the decision.'” Salmond v.
Berryhill, 892 F.3d 812, 817 (5th Cir. 2018) (citations
court must be careful not to “reweigh the evidence or
substitute . . . [its] judgment” for that of the ALJ,
see Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th Cir.
1988), even if it finds that the evidence preponderates
against the Commissioner's decision. Bowling v.
Shalala, 36 F.3d 431, 434 (5th Cir. 1994);
Harrell, 862 F.2d at 475. If the Commissioner's
decision is supported by the evidence, then it is conclusive
and must be upheld. Paul v. Shalala, 29 F.3d 208,
210 (5th Cir.1994).
support of his decision for finding the claimant's tremor
was not a ...