United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Steve Zinkel (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 the case 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 March 13, 1955 and was 59 years old at the time
of the ALJ's decision. Claimant completed his high school
education. Claimant worked in the past as an electrician.
Claimant alleges an inability to work beginning June 1, 2011
due to limitations resulting from degenerative disc disease
of the lumbar spine and knee and shoulder pain.
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
April 17, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Doug Gabbard, II conducted an administrative hearing by video
with Claimant appearing in Poteau, Oklahoma and the ALJ
presiding in McAlester, Oklahoma. On July 1, 2014, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision. On May 11, 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 four of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he retained the RFC to perform his past relevant
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) making an unsupported
credibility determination; (2) arriving at an erroneous and
unsupported RFC; and (3) failing to fully develop the record.