United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. McCARTHY 'United States Magistrate Judge
Amanda Michelle Johnson, seeks judicial review of a decision
of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
denying 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 decision is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the decision contains a
sufficient basis to determine that the Commissioner has
applied the correct legal standards. 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, 1420');">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., 993 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., 1495');">961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 26 years old on the alleged onset date of disability and
31 on the date of the denial decision. Plaintiff has a high
school education and past work experience includes restaurant
hostess, clerical office manager, insurance clerk, cashier,
and a schedule clerk. Plaintiff claims to have become
disabled as of February 1, 2009 due to fibromyalgia,
hypertension, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome,
asthma, body tremors, head shakes, body sways, paroxysmal
supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), restless leg syndrome
(RLS), and headaches. [R. 181].
found that Plaintiff has severe impairments relating to
fibromyalgia. The ALJ also found that despite Plaintiff
experiencing some headaches and a one time diagnosis of
“body tremors, ” there is no neurological or
objective medical evidence that determines these impairments
will persist for more than twelve months or a life time. [R.
24]. The ALJ determined that carpal tunnel syndrome,
hypertension, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg
syndrome, affective disorder, and anxiety related disorder
were non-severe impairments. [R. 25].
found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(a). Plaintiff can occasionally climb stairs,
occasionally crouch or crawl, and should never climb ladders,
ropes, and scaffolding. [R. 27]. The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant work as an
insurance clerk and a schedule clerk given her residual
functional capacity. [R. 31]. The ALJ, therefore, found that
Plaintiff was not disabled as defined by the Social Security
Act. [R. 20]. The case was thus decided at step 4 of the
five-step evaluative sequence for determining whether
Plaintiff is disabled. See Williams v. Bowen, 844
F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988)(discussing five steps in
asserts that the ALJ: 1) failed to properly weigh the medical
opinion evidence and properly determine the residual
functional capacity; and 2) failed to properly evaluate
Source Opinions Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to
properly weigh the medical opinion of Plaintiff's
treating physician, Dr. Sara L. Newell, M.D. [Dkt. 14, p. 8].
Newell, a board certified rheumatologist, treated Plaintiff
from October 2009, through February 2014. Dr. Newell
completed a Fibromyalgia Tender Point Diagram finding
Plaintiff had 18/18 positive trigger points. [R. 290]. She
diagnosed Plaintiff with undifferentiated connective tissue
disorder with positive ANA, positive SSA antibody,
arthralgias, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. [R. 327, 1231].
In August 2013, Dr. Newell opined that Plaintiff had been
unable to work since October 6, 2009 and would not be able to
do so for twelve months or longer. [R. 1161]. On September
30, 2013, Dr. Newell completed a Multiple Impairment
Questionnaire opining that during an 8-hour work day,
Plaintiff could stand/walk 1 to 2 hours; sit 3 to 4 hours;
must get up and move every 15 to 20 minutes; could
occasionally lift/carry 10 pounds; had significant
limitations doing repetitive reaching (including overhead),
handling, fingering; moderate limitations in grasping,
turning, or twisting objects, or using fingers/hands for fine
manipulations. Further, Plaintiff would need to take
unscheduled breaks to rest every 1 to 2 hours, and would
likely be absent from work more than 3 times a month because
of her impairments. [R. 1162-67]. Dr. Newell also found
Plaintiff's anxiety and ...