United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
EVA J. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Eva J. Jackson requests judicial review of a denial
of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she was not disabled. For the reasons set forth
below, the undersigned Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that the
Commissioner's decision be REVERSED and the case REMANDED
to the ALJ for further proceedings.
Security Law and Standard of Review
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 Social Security Act
“only if h[er] physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that [s]he is not only
unable to do h[er] previous work but cannot, considering
h[er] age, education, and work experience, engage in any
other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the
national economy[.]” Id. § 423 (d)(2)(A).
Social security regulations implement a five-step sequential
process to evaluate a disability claim. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.
405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to two inquiries: whether the
decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997).
Substantial evidence is “more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971),
quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S.
197, 229 (1938). See also Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d
1007, 1009 (10th Cir. 1996). The Court may not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its discretion for the
Commissioner's. See Casias v. Secretary of Health
& Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir.
1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and
“[t]he substantiality of the evidence must take into
account whatever in the record fairly detracts from its
weight.” Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340
U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also Casias, 933 F.2d at
claimant was born on December 10, 1962, and was fifty-one
years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 38,
136). She completed the tenth grade, and has worked as
hospital food-service worker, poultry hanger, and
receptionist (Tr. 31, 168). She alleges that she has been
unable to work since June 3, 2011, due to chronic pain in her
hands, legs, back, shoulders, and neck (Tr. 168).
April 25, 2012, the claimant applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and for supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. Her applications were denied.
ALJ James Bentley held an administrative hearing and
determined the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion
dated May 27, 2014 (Tr. 20-33). The Appeals Council denied
review, so the ALJ's opinion is the Commissioner's
final decision for purposes of this appeal. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1481, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at steps four and five of the sequential
evaluation. He found that the claimant had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a range of
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b),
416.967(b), i. e., she could lift/carry ten pounds
frequently and twenty pounds occasionally, stand/walk six
hours in an eight-hour workday, and sit six hours in an
eight-hour workday, and she required a sit/stand option,
defined as a temporary change in position from sitting to
standing and vice versa with no more than one change in
position every half hour and without leaving the workstation.
Additionally, he found she could only occasionally kneel,
crouch, crawl, and reach overhead bilaterally, and that she
could frequently (but not constantly) handle and finger
bilaterally (Tr. 25). The ALJ then concluded that she could
return to her past relevant work as a receptionist;
alternatively, he found there was work in the economy that
she could perform, i. e., furniture rental clerk,
storage-facility rental clerk, and information clerk (Tr.
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by: (i) failing to
properly evaluate the medical evidence related to her
fibromyalgia and chronic pain as well as her credibility, and
(ii) improperly assessing her RFC. The undersigned Magistrate
Judge agrees that the ALJ's assessment related to the
intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of her symptoms
was not properly conducted, and the decision of the
Commissioner should therefore be reversed.
determined that the claimant's severe impairments
consisted of fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, restless
leg syndrome, and hypertension (Tr. 22). The relevant medical
evidence reveals that the claimant largely received treatment
at Kiamichi Family Medical Center with Dr. Jon Maxwell. Dr.
Maxwell's notes reflect that she began complaining of
pain in mid-2011, and was assessed with chronic pain syndrome
(Tr. 241). On May 8, 2012, the ...