United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Laura Kincaid 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 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 May 8, 1992, and was twenty-one years old
at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 26). She has a
high school education, some college, and vocational training
in nail technology, and has worked as a storage laborer,
sales clerk, and stocker (Tr. 27, 38-39). The claimant
alleges that she has been unable to work since June 16, 2010,
due to schizophrenia (Tr. 136, 140, 164).
2, 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 Doug Gabbard, II conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated June 17, 2014 (Tr. 12-20). The Appeals Council
denied review, so the ALJ's written opinion is 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 steps four and five of the sequential
evaluation. He found that the claimant retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) perform unskilled
work, defined as work that needs little or no judgment to do
simple duties that can be learned on the job, at all
exertional levels with the following limitations: (i)
occasional understanding, remembering, and completing
detailed instructions; (ii) simple, direct, and concrete
supervision; (iii) interpersonal contact with supervisors and
co-workers incidental to the work performed, e. g.,
assembly work; and (iv) no contact with the general public
(Tr. 16). The ALJ concluded that the claimant was not
disabled because she could return to her past relevant work
as a store laborer, and alternatively because there was work
that she could perform in the national economy, e.
g., auto detailer, janitor, bundle clerk, and window
cleaner (Tr. 19-20).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to consider
all of the evidence related to her mental impairment in
making his RFC findings. The Court agrees and the decision of
the Commissioner must be reversed and the case remanded for
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
“affective, anxiety and schizophrenia, and other
psychotic disorders.” (Tr. 15). The medical record
reveals that the claimant was involuntarily admitted to St.
Francis Hospital and Health Services on June 16, 2010 (Tr.
419-448). Upon admission, she made no eye contact; her speech
was hyper-verbal, pressured, and nonsensical; and her affect
was irritable, expansive, labile, and inappropriate (Tr.
423). The claimant was stabilized and discharged on June 28,
2010, in improved status with diagnoses of
major depressive disorder, severe, recurrent with psychotic
features and posttraumatic stress disorder (Tr. 421). The
following month, the claimant was admitted to Griffin
Memorial Hospital for depression and confusion (Tr. 486-501).
Upon admission, she was paranoid, looked somewhat confused,
and had a flat affect with crying spells, poor insight, and
poor judgment (Tr. 486). Dr. A. Sameer Mohammed noted the
claimant showed a remarkable improvement in her thought
process once she resumed medication (Tr. 487). Dr. Mohammed