United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
GINGER F. COOK, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ginger F. Cook (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 REVERSED
and REMANDED 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 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 June 8, 1970 and was 44 years old at the time of
the ALJ's latest decision. Claimant completed his high
school education and some college. Claimant has worked in the
past as a certified nurse's aide, a technician in a
catheter lab, and in tech support/dispatch agent. Claimant
alleges an inability to work beginning January 16, 2010 due
to limitations resulting from constant leg pain and anxiety.
October 27, 2010, Claimant protectively filed for disability
insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401,
et seq.) of the Social Security Act. On March 8,
2012, Claimant filed an application for supplemental security
income pursuant to Title XVI (42 U.S.C. § 1381, et
seq.). Claimant's applications were denied initially
and upon reconsideration. After an administrative hearing, an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) entered an
unfavorable decision which the Appeals Council reversed and
remanded for further consideration.
16, 2014, ALJ Bernard Porter conducted a further
administrative hearing by video with Claimant appearing in
Fort Smith, Arkansas and the ALJ presiding in McAlester,
Oklahoma. On June 25, 2014, the ALJ entered a second
unfavorable decision. The Appeals Council denied review of
the ALJ's decision on December 3, 2015. 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 did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
sedentary work with limitations.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) failing to find that
Claimant's impairments met or equaled a listing; (2)
reaching an improper and unsupported RFC; and (3) finding
Claimant could perform jobs identified at step five.