United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
claimant Rhydonna Gail Linn requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
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 h[er] physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that [s]he is not only
unable to do h[er] previous work but cannot, considering
h[er] 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 October 21, 1968, and was forty-five years
old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 124). She
has a master's degree in psychology, and has worked as a
bartender and counselor (Tr. 33, 54). The claimant alleges
that she has been unable to work since an amended onset date
of December 15, 2011, due to breast cancer, post-traumatic
stress disorder, depression, syncope, a history of substance
abuse, and a heart condition (Tr. 157, 188).
February 24, 2012, the claimant applied for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and for supplemental security
income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. Her applications were denied.
ALJ James Bentley conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated January 24, 2014 (Tr. 14-25). The Appeals
Council denied review, so the ALJ's opinion represents
the Commissioner's final decision 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), 416.967(a),
except that she was limited to simple tasks with routine
supervision; occasional contact with coworkers, supervisors,
and the general public; and could not be exposed to
unprotected heights or dangerous, moving machinery (Tr. 18).
The ALJ concluded that although the claimant could not return
to her past relevant work, she was nevertheless not disabled
because there was work she could perform in the national and
regional economies, i. e., dial maker, bonder, and
paramutual ticket checker (Tr. 24).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to properly:
(i) evaluate the medical evidence, and (ii) assess her
credibility. The Court agrees with the claimant's second
contention, and the decision of the Commissioner must
therefore be reversed and the case remanded for further
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of
cholecystitis, breast cancer stage 1A, anxiety, and
polysubstance abuse in remission (Tr. 23). As to the
claimant's mental health, the record reveals Dr. Sean
Boone managed her anxiety from November 2007 through December
2010 (Tr. 366-81). In October 2008, the claimant participated
in sixteen hours of intensive outpatient treatment groups at
The Center for Counseling and Health Resources to address
depression, relationship issues, addictions, and anxiety (Tr.
279-325). The claimant established care with Dr. Teddy
Rowland on January 10, 2012, and reported hyperventilation,
insomnia, panic attacks, and light-headedness ...