United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
CHRISTOPHER M. RUNDEL, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Christopher M. Rundel (the “Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
application for disability benefits under the Social Security
Act. Claimant appeals the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and asserts that the Commissioner
erred because the ALJ incorrectly determined that Claimant
was not disabled. For the reasons discussed below, it is the
finding of this Court that the Commissioner's decision
should be and is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED for
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 his physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable
to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy. . .” 42 U.S.C. §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.
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is
limited to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997)(citation
omitted). The term “substantial evidence” has
been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to
require “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)). The court may not re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “substantiality of the
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 800-01.
was born on November 19, 1980 and was 33 years old at the
time of the ALJ's decision. Claimant obtained his GED.
Claimant has no past relevant work. Claimant alleges an
inability to work beginning February 1, 2010 due to
limitations resulting from PTSD, severe fear and anxiety, and
other mental problems.
4, 2012, Claimant protectively filed for disability insurance
benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401, et
seq.) and for supplemental security income pursuant to
Title XVI (42 U.S.C. § 1381, et seq.) of the
Social Security Act. Claimant's applications were denied
initially and upon reconsideration. On February 27, 2014, an
administrative hearing was held by video before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Bernard Porter
with Claimant appearing in Poteau, Oklahoma and the ALJ
presiding from McAlester, Oklahoma. He issued an unfavorable
decision on June 13, 2014. The Appeals Council denied review
of the ALJ's decision on October 19, 2015. As a result,
the decision of the ALJ represents the Commissioner's
final decision for purposes of further appeal. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
medium work with limitations.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) reaching an RFC which
is not supported by substantial evidence; (2) finding at step
five that Claimant could perform other jobs; (3) performing
an erroneous credibility assessment; and (4) failing to fully
develop the record by obtaining further consultative
evaluations of Claimant's mental limitations.
Evaluation and Duty to ...