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Kelley v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

February 28, 2017

JENNIFER KELLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul J. Cleary Judge.

         Plaintiff, Jennifer Kelley (“Kelley”) seeks judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is REVERSED AND REMANDED.

         Social Security Law and Standard of Review

         Disability under the Social Security Act is defined as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). A claimant is disabled under the Act only if his “physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). Social Security regulations implement a five-step sequential process to evaluate a disability claim. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.[1] See also Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (detailing steps). “If a determination can be made at any of the steps that a claimant is or is not disabled, evaluation under a subsequent step is not necessary.” Lax, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation omitted).

         Judicial review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in scope to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the correct legal standards were applied. Hamlin v. Barnhart, 365 F.3d 1208, 1214 (10th Cir. 2004).

         “Substantial evidence is such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. It requires more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Wall, 561 F.3d at 1052 (quotation and citation omitted). Although the court will not reweigh the evidence, the court will “meticulously examine 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.” Id.

         1. Background

         Kelley was thirty-one years old on the amended alleged date of onset of disability and thirty-six on the date of the Commissioner's final decision. [R. 1, R.192 (Ex. B1D)]. She has a high school education and two years of college. [R. 383 (Ex. B20E)]. She has previous experience in administration support; as an engineering aide and office coordinator in the oil and gas business; as a baker at a grocery store; and in hazardous material administrative support in a transportation business. [R. 383 (Ex. B20E)]. In her application, she claimed to be unable to work as a result of major depression and injuries that make it hard to stand; anxiety; hearing voices; broken right ankle and knee; and arthritis. [R. 382 (Ex. B20E)].

         2. The ALJ's Decision

         In his decision, the ALJ found that Kelley met insured status requirements through June 30, 2013, and, at Step One, that she had not engaged in any substantial gainful activity October 10, 2010, the alleged onset date. [R. 24]. He found at Step Two that Kelley had severe impairments of marijuana abuse and depression. [R. 25]. At Step Three, he found that the impairments did not meet or medically equal any listing. Id. He concluded that Kelley had the following residual functional capacity (“RFC”):

The claimant is limited to simple and some complex tasks (defined as semiskilled work with a specific vocational preparation (SVP) of 3-4). The claimant is unable to have contact with the public. The claimant's contact with coworkers and supervisors should be superficial (defined as brief and cursory contact). .

         [R. 28]. At Step Four, the ALJ determined that, based on the RFC, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work. [R. 32]. At Step Five, he found that, considering Kelley's age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity, there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, including hand packager, medium exertional, DOT #920.587-018, 17, 500 jobs in Oklahoma and 220, 000 jobs nationally; assembler, light exertional, DOT #706.684-022, 13, 000 jobs in Oklahoma and 180, 000 jobs nationally; clerical mailer, sedentary exertional, DOT #209.587-010, 10, 000 jobs in Oklahoma and 125, 000 jobs nationally; assembler, sedentary exertional, DOT #726.685-066, 7, 000 jobs in Oklahoma and 93, 000 jobs nationally; and trimmer, sedentary exertional, 6, 500 jobs in Oklahoma and 95, 000 jobs nationally. [R. 33].

         Accordingly, the ALJ found that Kelley had not been under a disability from October 10, 2010, through ...


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