United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Carol Wilson, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) for judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's final decision finding she was not
disabled under the Social Security Act. The parties have
consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this matter by
a United States Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative
Record (AR), and both parties have briefed their respective
positions. For the reasons stated below, the Court reverses
the Commissioner's decision and remands the matter for
October 2011, Plaintiff protectively filed applications for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security
income (SSI). AR 203-207; 208-213. The Social Security
Administration denied the application initially and on
reconsideration. AR 73, 74; 76, 77. Following an
administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
issued an unfavorable decision dated September 18, 2014. AR
19-30. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review on April 5, 2016. AR 1-6. Therefore, the ALJ's
decision constitutes the final decision of the Commissioner.
Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir.
2011). Plaintiff timely commenced this action for judicial
review. See Compl. [Doc. No. 1] (filed May 4, 2016).
The ALJ's Decision
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required
by agency regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart,
431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005) (explaining process);
see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520; 416.920.
The ALJ first determined that Plaintiff meets the insured
status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2013, and
has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the
alleged onset date, May 30, 2011. AR 21.
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following
severe impairments which, when combined, are severe:
osteoarthritis, bilateral knees; hypertension; hepatitis C;
depressive disorder not otherwise specified; alcohol
dependence; and generalized anxiety disorder. Id. At
step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments do
not meet or medically equal any of the impairments listed at
20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. AR 24-25.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC). The ALJ concluded Plaintiff could perform light work
with nonexertional limitations. AR 25-26.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could not perform her past
relevant work as a cashier/checker. AR 28. At step five,
relying on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff can perform other work that exists
in significant numbers in the national economy. AR 28-29. The
ALJ identified price marker, laundry bagger and photo copying
machine operator as representative occupations. AR 29. The
ALJ concluded, therefore, that Plaintiff was not disabled
under the terms of the Social Security Act (SSA). AR 29-30.
Issues Presented for Judicial Review
seeks judicial review raising three claims of error: (1) the
ALJ failed to properly consider Plaintiff's age; (2) the
ALJ failed to properly consider medical source opinion
evidence; and (3) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate
Plaintiff's credibility. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's first two claims of error require a remand.
Because the ALJ's treatment of those claims on remand may
affect the credibility analysis, the Court does not reach the
merits of that claim.
Standard of Review
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted). A decision is not
based on substantial evidence if it is overwhelmed by other
evidence in the record or if there is a mere scintilla of
evidence supporting it. Branum v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d
1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004). The court “meticulously
examine[s] the record as a whole, including anything that may
undercut or detract from the ALJ's findings in order to
determine if the substantiality test has been met.”
Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009)
(citations omitted). While the court considers whether the
ALJ followed the applicable rules of law in weighing
particular types of evidence in disability cases, the court
does not reweigh the evidence or substitute its own judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511
F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008) (quotations and citations
bears the burden of proof at steps one through four of the
sequential evaluation process to establish a prima facie case
of disability. Wells v. Colvin, 727 F.3d 1061, 1064
n. 1 (10th Cir. 2013). If Plaintiff meets this burden, the
burden of proof shifts to the Commissioner at step five to
show that Plaintiff retains a sufficient RFC to perform other
work that exists in significant numbers in the national