Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Green v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 22, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.



         The claimant John Chance Green requests judicial review of a denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). He appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in determining he was not disabled. For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby REVERSED and the case REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings.

         Social Security Law and Standard of Review

         Disability 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[.]” 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.[2]

         Section 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 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.

         Claimant's Background

         The claimant was born September 16, 1966, and was forty-seven years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 112). He completed the twelfth grade, and has worked as a truck driver (Tr. 105, 114). The claimant alleges he has been unable to work since an amended onset date of October 2, 2012, due to amblyopia, injury to right knee, arthritis in the right leg, gout, and back problems (Tr. 91, 282).

         Procedural History

         On October 5, 2012, the claimant applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. His application was denied. ALJ Bernard Porter held an administrative hearing and found that the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated September 9, 2014 (Tr. 89-107). The Appeals Council denied review, so the ALJ's opinion is the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981.

         Decision of the Administrative Law Judge

         The ALJ made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation. He found that the claimant had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a), i. e., that he could lift/carry/push/pull ten pounds occasionally and five pounds frequently, sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour workday, and stand/walk up to two hours per day, but that he required a sit/stand option which allowed for a change of position at least every thirty minutes, defined as a brief positional change lasting no more than three to four minutes at a time. Additionally, the ALJ determined that the claimant could occasionally use hand controls, use right lower extremity for foot controls, climb ramps and stairs, and kneel; frequently handle, finger, feel, balance, stoop, and crawl; but that he could not climb ladders or scaffolds, nor could he crawl [the ALJ listed crawling twice]. Additionally, the ALJ found that the claimant was unable to read very small print, but could read ordinary newspaper or book-style print, that he should not work around unprotected heights or moving mechanical parts, and that he should avoid environments with temperature extremes. Finally, the ALJ limited the claimant to simple tasks and simple work-related decisions, having no more than occasional interaction with supervisors, co-workers, and the public, and that time off task would be accommodated by normal breaks (Tr. 94). The ALJ concluded that although the claimant could not return to his past relevant work, he was nevertheless not disabled because there was work he could perform, e. g., document preparer, touch-up screener, and semi-conductor bonder (Tr. 105-106).


         The claimant argues on appeal that the ALJ erred by failing to meet his step five burden when he failed to demonstrate the existence of work the claimant was capable of and failed to resolve conflicts between the vocational expert's testimony and the Dictionary of Occupational titles. The Court agrees with the claimant's contentions, and the Commissioner's decision must therefore be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.

         At the administrative hearing, the ALJ elicited testimony from a VE to determine if the claimant could perform his past relevant work or if there were other jobs the claimant could perform with his limitations. He posed a number of hypothetical questions requiring the VE to assume various limitations and identify the work someone with such limitations could ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.