United States District Court, D. Maine
JAMES D. P., Plaintiff
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant
MEMORANDUM DECISION 
H. RICH III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Social Security Disability (“SSD”) appeal raises
the question of whether the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) supportably found the plaintiff capable
of performing work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy. The plaintiff seeks remand on the bases
that the ALJ erred in (i) finding no severe, medically
determinable impairment (“MDI”) of fibromyalgia
and no severe impairment of irritable bowel syndrome
(“IBS”), (ii) reaching the unsupported conclusion
that he could work in sight of coworkers with no team work or
collaborative work, and (iii) failing to undertake an
appropriate legal analysis of his subjective statements.
See Plaintiff's Itemized Statement of Specific
Errors (“Statement of Errors”) (ECF No. 11) at
5-20. I find no reversible error and, accordingly, affirm the
to the commissioner's sequential evaluation process, 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520; Goodermote v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 690 F.2d 5, 6 (1st Cir. 1982), the
ALJ found, in relevant part, that the plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Social Security Act
through December 31, 2020, Finding 1, Record at 20; that he
had the severe impairments of spinal disorder, peripheral
neuropathy, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), Finding
3, id.; that he had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), except that he could occasionally
climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps and stairs,
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, could
not work with tools or on surfaces that vibrate, could
perform simple, routine tasks that did not involve
interaction with the public, could work in sight of coworkers
but could not do team work or collaborative work, and could
adapt to simple changes in work routine, Finding 5,
id. at 23; that, considering his age (46 years old,
defined as a younger individual, on his alleged disability
onset date, January 23, 2016), education (at least high
school), work experience (transferability of skills
immaterial), and RFC, there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy that he could perform,
Findings 7-10, id. at 27-28; and that he, therefore,
had not been disabled from January 23, 2016, his alleged
onset date of disability, through the date of the decision,
January 18, 2018, Finding 11, id. at 28-29. The
Appeals Council declined to review the decision, id.
at 4-6, making the decision the final determination of the
commissioner, 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; Dupuis v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 869 F.2d 622,
623 (1st Cir. 1989).
standard of review of the commissioner's decision is
whether the determination made is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Manso-Pizarro v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 76 F.3d 15, 16
(1st Cir. 1996). In other words, the determination must be
supported by such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support the conclusion drawn.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Rodriguez v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981).
reached Step 5 of the sequential evaluation process, at which
stage the burden of proof shifts to the commissioner to show
that a claimant can perform work other than his past relevant
work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g); Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987);
Goodermote, 690 F.2d at 7. The record must contain
substantial evidence in support of the commissioner's
findings regarding the plaintiff's RFC to perform such
other work. Rosado v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 807 F.2d 292, 294 (1st Cir. 1986).
Step 2: Fibromyalgia and IBS
Finding That Fibromyalgia Not an MDI
plaintiff first challenges the ALJ's findings that he did
not establish that he had an MDI of fibromyalgia and that,
even if he had done so, the impairment was nonsevere.
See Statement of Errors at 5-14. I conclude that the
ALJ's threshold finding that the plaintiff had no MDI of
fibromyalgia is supported by substantial evidence, disposing
of this point favorably to the commissioner.
symptom or combination of symptoms can be the basis for a
finding of disability, no matter how genuine the
individual's complaints may appear to be, unless there
are medical signs and laboratory findings demonstrating the
existence of a medically determinable physical or mental
impairment.” Social Security Ruling 96-4p, reprinted in
West's Social Security Reporting Service,
Rulings 1983-1991 (Supp. 2019) (“SSR 96-4p”), at
is the plaintiff's burden to produce sufficient evidence
to allow the commissioner to reach a conclusion at Step 2;
the absence of evidence provides support for a conclusion
adverse to the plaintiff at this point in the sequential
evaluation process.” Coffin v. Astrue, Civil
No. 09-487-P-S, 2010 WL 3952865, at *2 (D. Me. Oct. 6, 2010)
(rec. dec., aff'd Oct. 27, 2010).
Security Ruling 12-2p (“SSR 12-2p”), which
pertains to fibromyalgia, provides, in relevant part:
Generally, a person can establish that he or she has an MDI
of FM [fibromyalgia] by providing evidence from an acceptable
medical source. A licensed physician (a medical or
osteopathic doctor) is the only acceptable medical source who
can provide such evidence. We cannot rely upon the
physician's diagnosis alone.
We will find that a person has an MDI of FM if the physician
diagnosed FM and provides the evidence we describe in section
II.A. [setting forth the 1990 American College of
Rheumatology (“ACR”) Criteria for the
Classification of Fibromyalgia] or section II.B. [setting
forth the 2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria], and the
physician's diagnosis is not inconsistent with the other
evidence in the person's case record.
SSR 12-2p, reprinted in West's Social Security
Reporting Service Rulings 1983-1991 (Supp. 2019), at
459-60 (footnote omitted).
1990 criteria require a showing of (i) “[a] history of
widespread pain . . . that has persisted (or that persisted)
for at least 3 months[, ]” (ii) “[a]t least 11
positive tender points on physical examination” that
“must be found bilaterally (on the left and right sides
of the body) and both above and below the waist” in 18
specified tender point sites, and (iii) ...