United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCCARTHY United States Magistrate Judge.
Nicole Streeter, seeks judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
Social Security disability benefits. In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to
proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.
role of the court in reviewing the decision of the
Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a
determination of whether the record as a whole contains
substantial evidence to support the decision and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Briggs ex rel.
Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir.
2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir.
1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28
L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court may neither
reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even
if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 39 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 41 on the date of the ALJ's denial decision She is a
high school graduate with some college education. Plaintiff
formerly worked as packer/sorter, boys monitor, and
residential counselor. She claims to have been unable to work
since July 29, 2011 as a result of hypertension, a history of
cervical, thoracic and lumbar strains, depression, anxiety,
and panic attacks.
noted that Plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily in writing
waived her right to personally appear and testify at a
hearing. The ALJ submitted interrogatories to a vocational
expert. The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform medium work as defined
in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c), with the
limitation of being limited to simple, routine tasks
involving no more than superficial contact with coworkers and
supervisors and no contact with the public. In addition, she
must avoid unprotected heights and dangerous machinery.
Although Plaintiff is unable to perform her past relevant
work, based on the answers to interrogatories by the
vocational expert, the ALJ determined that there are a
significant number of jobs in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform with these limitations. The case was
thus decided at step five of the five-step evaluative
sequence for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
See Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th
Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in detail).
is proceeding pro se before this court. Plaintiff
filed a document on September 8, 2016, [Dkt. 18], wherein she
refers to Exhibit 8F, which is the report of a mental status
examination performed by Brian R. Snider, Ph.D., psychologist
on April 26, 2013. [R. 325-328]. Dr. Snider concluded, as
Ms. Streeter would probably have little difficulty
understanding and carrying out simple instructions and would
likely have moderate to marked difficulty with complex and
detailed instructions. She is likely to have marked to severe
difficulty concentrating and persisting through a normal work
day due to psychiatric symptoms. Her ability to maintain a
normal workday and work week without interruptions from her
psychiatric symptoms is likely markedly to severely impaired.
In all likelihood, she would have moderate difficulty
responding appropriately to coworkers and supervisors. Ms.
Streeter appears capable of managing her own funds
[R. 327-328]. Dr. Snider recommended that Plaintiff should
receive outpatient psychiatric care from a community mental
health center including medication, psychotherapy, and case
management. He further opined that with appropriate and
consistent psychiatric care her psychiatric symptoms were
expected to improve. [R. 328]. Construing Plaintiff's
pro se submission liberally, the court reads
Plaintiff's submission as challenging the ALJ's RFC
finding as being unsupported by substantial evidence because
the ALJ arguably found Plaintiff to be more capable than Dr.
Snider found her to be.
existence of evidence that may also support findings contrary
to the ALJ's decision does not deprive the ALJ's
finding of support by substantial evidence. The court may not
reweigh the evidence and displace the agency's choice
between two fairly conflicting views. Lax v. Astrue,
489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007). On appeal, the court
reviews only the sufficiency of the evidence, not its weight.
Oldham v. Astrue, 509 F.3d 1254, 1257-1258 (10th
Cir. 2007). The statute governing judicial review of Social
Security disability rulings specifies that the findings of
the Commissioner of Social Security shall be conclusive if
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
The term “substantial evidence” does not mean
undisputed or unequivocal. Substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. In the context of Social
Security disability decisions, substantial evidence requires
more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.
Lax, 489 F.3d at 1084. “Evidence is
insubstantial if it is overwhelmingly contradicted by other
evidence.” O'Dell v. Shalala, 44 F.3d 855,
858 (10th Cir. 1994). In other words, a decision is supported
by substantial evidence unless the contrary evidence is so
overwhelming that a conclusion different than the one made by
the ALJ is compelled by that contrary evidence. The court
finds that Dr. Snider's opinion does not compel a
conclusion different from the ALJ's conclusion.
accurately summarized Dr. Snider's report and his
conclusion. [R. 23]. The ALJ stated he gave Dr. Snider's
evaluation some weight. He noted Dr. Snider saw Plaintiff on
one occasion and that some of Dr. Snider's conclusions
were consistent with the finding by Plaintiff's mental
health providers, Green Country Free Clinic and Grand Lake
Mental Health Center. However, the ALJ stated that the
opinion that Plaintiff would have difficulty concentrating
and persisting through a normal workday appears to be based
on Plaintiff's subjective complaints and are not
supported by the findings outlined by her mental health