The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in Newbold v. Colvin on Thursday, June 13, 2013.
Tyla M. Newbold sought disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) based on “fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety[,] and chronic migraines.” She appealed from a magistrate judge’s order affirming the Commissioner’s decision to grant social security benefits from October 1, 2006, through November 1, 2007, and to deny benefits thereafter. The Commissioner determined Ms. Newbold had been disabled during this closed period due to physical and mental impairments, but that her disability ceased on November 2, 2007, when she experienced a medical improvement related to her ability to work.
Newbold argued that the ALJ improperly found medical-improvement based on symptom improvement alone in making his disability-cessation decision. The Tenth Circuit disagreed. “The Commissioner’s regulations, Shepherd’s application of those regulations, preexisting Tenth Circuit case law, and the POMS demonstrate that an ALJ may find medical improvement based on an improvement in signs, laboratory findings, and/or symptoms.”
The court also concluded that substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s decision to give Newbold’s treating rheumatologist’s opinion, after November 1, 2007, diminished weight as it was at odds with his own notes on that date showing improvement. The court affirmed the district court.