United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
CAROLYN D. CROOMS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Carolyn D. Crooms 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 decision of the Commissioner 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. Sec'y of Health
& Human Svcs., 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 November 13, 1967, and was forty-six years
old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 55). She
has a tenth grade education and a certified nursing assistant
certificate, and has worked as a certified nurse assistant
(Tr. 56, 73). The claimant alleges she has been unable to
work since January 1, 2012, due to back pain; low blood
count; and arthritis in her wrists, hips, knees, and feet
(Tr. 201, 234).
12, 2012, the claimant applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. Her applications were denied.
ALJ Doug Gabbard, II conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated March 21, 2014 (Tr. 34-45). 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 a limited range of
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b)
and 416.967(b), i. e., she could lift/carry twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, and
sit/stand/walk six hours each in an eight-hour workday, but
could only occasionally stoop and crawl (Tr. 39). The ALJ
further found the claimant required a sit/stand option every
fifteen to thirty minutes without leaving the workstation,
and the ability to elevate her feet three to four inches off
the ground throughout the workday while seated (Tr. 39). The
ALJ concluded that although the claimant could not return to
her past relevant work, she was nevertheless not disabled
because there because there was work she could perform in the
regional and national economies, e. g., ticket
seller and cutter-and-paster (Tr. 45).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred in assessing her RFC by
failing to properly consider her non-severe impairments at
step four of the sequential analysis. The Court agrees, and
the decision of the Commissioner is therefore reversed.
determined that the claimant had the severe impairment of
lumbar degenerative disc disease, as well as the non-severe
impairments of osteoarthritis, obesity, hypertension,
systolic murmur, hyperlipidemia, sleeping problems,
hypothyroidism, abnormal vaginal bleeding, status post
hysterectomy, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating,
hemorrhoids, tobacco abuse, and plantar fasciitis (Tr. 36).
He found her alleged depression was not medically
determinable (Tr. 38-39). The relevant medical evidence
reveals that the claimant presented to ABC Medical Clinic on
October 12, 2010, with, inter alia, pain in her left
knee, ankle, and calf, and a burning sensation in her left
knee and ankle, and was prescribed pain medication (Tr. 303).
The record contains no further evidence of medical treatment
until the claimant established care with Dr. ...