United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tamara Couch (the “Claimant”) requests judicial
review of the decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (the “Commissioner”)
denying Claimant's application for disability benefits
under the Social Security Act. Claimant appeals the decision
of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) and
asserts that the Commissioner erred because the ALJ
incorrectly determined that Claimant was not disabled. For
the reasons discussed below, it is the recommendation of the
undersigned that the Commissioner's decision be AFFIRMED.
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 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. See, 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is
limited to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997)(citation
omitted). The term “substantial evidence” has
been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to
require “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)). The court may not re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “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 800-01.
was born on August 23, 1971 and was 42 years old at the time
of the ALJ's decision. Claimant completed his high school
education and two years of college. Claimant has worked in
the past as a scrap sorter and administrative clerk. Claimant
alleges an inability to work beginning May 30, 2012 due to
limitations resulting from osteoarthritis, E-spine, lupus,
joint problems, and mental problems.
5, 2012, Claimant protectively filed for disability insurance
benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401, et
seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On
December 13, 2013, Administrative Law Judge Bernard Porter
(“ALJ”) conducted a video hearing with Claimant
present in Ada, Oklahoma and the ALJ presiding in McAlester,
Oklahoma. On June 10, 2014, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. On September 10, 2015, the Appeals Council denied
review of the decision. As a result, the decision of the ALJ
represents the Commissioner's final decision for purposes
of further appeal. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, she retained the RFC to perform sedentary work
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) positing questions to
the vocational expert which did not reflect the ALJ's RFC
findings; and (2) failing to include the totality of
Claimant's limitations in the RFC.
Elicited from ...