United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
LACINDA G. CARAWAY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
claimant Lacinda G. Caraway 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 the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she was not disabled. For the reasons set forth
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby REVERSED and
the case is 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 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 April 19, 1976, and was thirty-eight years
old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 118). She
has a high school education and vocational training in
cosmetology, and has worked as an administrative assistant,
cashier checker, sales clerk, and cosmetologist (Tr. 193,
634). The claimant alleges she has been unable to work since
an amended onset date of January 1, 2012, due to chronic back
pain, back surgeries, back injury, fibromyalgia, depression,
arthritis, hypoglycemia, migraine headaches, sleep apnea, and
a temporomandibular joint disorder (Tr. 192).
23, 2013, 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 March 23, 2015 (Tr. 11-40). 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 could occasionally climb ramps and stairs,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, and could never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds (Tr. 21). Additionally, he found
she required a sit/stand option, defined as a temporary
change in position from sitting to standing and vice versa
with no more than one change in position every twenty minutes
(Tr. 21). Due to psychologically based symptoms, the ALJ also
found the claimant could remember and carry out simple tasks
with routine supervision, and could have occasional contact
with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public (Tr. 21).
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, i. e.,
document preparer, clerical mailer, and production worker
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to properly
analyze the opinions of treating physician Dr. Nance Weddle,
and consultative examiner Dr. Ronald Schatzman. The Court
finds that the ALJ did fail to properly analyze Dr.
Weddle's opinion, and the decision of the Commissioner
must therefore be reversed and the case remanded for further
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
post-surgical syndrome, lumbar spine; failed back syndrome;
migraine headaches; fibromyalgia; right knee pain
post-surgical meniscus repair; obesity; dysthymia, early
onset; post-traumatic stress disorder; anxiety disorder, not
otherwise specified; and dependent personality traits (Tr.
13). He then determined that her recurrent cystitis, status
post gastric bypass surgery, iron deficiency, anemia,
hypoglycemia, allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease,
insomnia, and temporomandibular joint disorder were
non-severe, and that her alleged chest pain, gallstones, and
problems with her hands were medically non-determinable (Tr.
13-17). The record reflects that the claimant underwent three
lumbar spine surgeries between March 2007 and August 2009. On
March 22, 2007, Dr. Daniel Boedeker performed a left L5-S1
microdiskectomy with microdissection, wherein the herniated
portion of her L5-S1 disc was removed (Tr. 320-21). On
September 30, 2008, Dr. Patrick Han performed an ...