United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
SABRINA M. JAMISON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Sabrina M. Jamison 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 December 30, 1970, and was forty-three
years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr.
228). She has an eleventh grade education, and has worked as
an outside deliverer, secretary, collection clerk, customer
service representative, and insurance agent (Tr. 109, 114).
The claimant alleges that she has been unable to work since
January 1, 2006, due to fibromyalgia, sciatica, degenerative
disc disease, hypothyroidism, migraine headaches, depression,
and anxiety (Tr. 276).
November 21, 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 August 8, 2014 (Tr. 57-74). 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 step five of the sequential evaluation.
He found that the claimant retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) perform a limited range of light
work, i. e., she could lift and/or carry twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; could
sit/stand/walk for six hours total during an eight-hour
workday; could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, stoop,
kneel, crouch and crawl; and could never reach overhead (Tr.
65). The ALJ also found the claimant required a sit/stand
option defined as temporary changes in position from sitting
to standing, and vice versa, with no more than one change in
position every half hour without leaving the workstation (Tr.
65-66). Due to psychologically based factors, the ALJ further
found the claimant could perform simple tasks with routine
supervision, could have occasional contact with co-workers
and supervisors, and no contact with the public (Tr. 66). The
ALJ concluded that although the claimant could not return to
her past relevant work, she was nevertheless not disabled
because there was work that she could perform in the national
economy, e. g., small products assembler, inspector
packer, and electrical accessory assembler (Tr. 73-74).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to: (i) find
her fibromyalgia, arthritis, and mixed connective tissue
disease were severe impairments, (ii) incorporate limitations
in the RFC related to her muscle and joint pain, (iii)
properly evaluate the opinion of consultative examiner Dr.
Robert Spray, (iv) properly assess her credibility, (v)
properly evaluate the Third Party Function Report submitted
by her neighbor, and (vi) pose a proper hypothetical question
to the vocational expert (“VE”). The Court finds
the claimant's third and fourth propositions persuasive,
and the decision of the Commissioner must therefore be
reversed and the case remanded to the ALJ for further
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,
personality disorder with avoidant features, minimal
degenerative disc disease, pain disorder, hypertension,
migraines with no photosensitivity, and obesity (Tr. 59-63).
The medical record reveals that Dr. James Russell diagnosed
the claimant with mixed connective tissue disease on February
24, 2006, after she reported significant joint pain
“all over” (Tr. 457). At a follow-up appointment
on May 15, 2016, the claimant indicated to Dr. Russell that a