United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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.
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[.]” 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.
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
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).
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.
of the Administrative Law Judge
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).
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.
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