United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. McCARTHY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
KIMBERLY DIANNE PEASE, seeks judicial review of a decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
denying disability benefits. In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to
proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.
role of the court in reviewing the decision of the
Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a
determination of whether the decision is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the decision contains a
sufficient basis to determine that the Commissioner has
applied the correct legal standards. See Briggs ex rel.
Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir.
2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir.
1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28
L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 22');">229 (1938)). The court may neither
reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 993 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even
if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 41 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 42 on the date of the denial decision. Plaintiff has a
high school education and attended some college. Her past
work experience includes kennel attendant. Plaintiff claims
to have become disabled as of August 22');">22, 2013 due to back and
hip problems, neck problems, depression, anger issues, memory
problems, arthritis, hands and feet go to sleep, and sleep
apnea. [R. 194].
found that Plaintiff has severe impairments relating to
degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis of the hands and
feet, obesity, organic mental disorder/borderline
intellectual functioning status post remote (1994) traumatic
head injury, major depressive disorder, anger disorder, and
personality disorder. [R. 13].
determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional
capacity to perform light work with the exception of no more
than occasional lifting up to twenty pounds; no more than the
frequent lifting or carrying up to ten pounds; and
standing/walking/sitting six hours out of an eight-hour
workday. Plaintiff is able to understand, remember, and carry
out simple instructions consistent with unskilled work that
is repetitive and routine in nature; able to relate and
interact with co-workers and supervisors on a work related
basis only; and no to minimal interaction with the general
public. Plaintiff can adapt to a work situation with these
limitations, and her medications would not preclude her from
remaining reasonably alert to perform required work functions
presented in a work setting. [R. 15]. The ALJ determined that
although Plaintiff cannot return to her past relevant work,
based on the testimony of the vocational expert, there are a
significant number of jobs in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform. [R. 20-21]. Accordingly, the ALJ
found Plaintiff was not disabled. The case was thus decided
at step five of the five-step evaluative sequence for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. See Williams
v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988)
(discussing five steps in detail).
asserts that the ALJ failed to give greater weight to the
expert medical opinion of treating psychiatrist, Weldon
Mallgren, D.O., which resulted in a flawed residual
functional capacity (RFC). [Dkt. 22');">22, p. 4].
treating physician's opinion is accorded controlling
weight if it is well-supported by medically acceptable
clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not
inconsistent with other substantial evidence in the record.
However, if the opinion is deficient in either of these
respects, it is not given controlling weight. When an ALJ
decides to disregard a medical report by a claimant's
physician, he must set forth specific, legitimate reasons for
his decision. An ALJ "may reject a treating
physician's opinion outright only on the basis of
contradictory medical evidence and not due to his or her own
credibility judgments, speculation or lay opinion."
Watkins v. Barnhart, 350 F.3d, 1297, 2003 WL
22');">22855009 (10th Cir. 2003). If the ALJ decides that a treating
source's opinion is not entitled to controlling weight,
he must determine the weight it should be given after
considering: (1) the length of the treatment relationship and
the frequency of examination; (2) the nature and extent of
the treatment relationship, including the treatment provided
and the kind of examination or testing performed; (3) the
degree to which the treating source's opinion is
supported by objective evidence; (4) whether the opinion is
consistent with the record as a whole; (5) whether or not the
treating source is a specialist in the area upon which an
opinion is given; and (6) other factors brought to the
ALJ's attention which tend to support or contradict the
opinion. See § 404.1527(d)(2)-(6).
Mallgren is the Medical Director of Grand Lake Mental Health
Center, Inc., where Plaintiff was treated from August 22');">22,
2013 to August 12, 2014. A Medical Source Statement -
Mental (MSS-M) was signed by Dr. Mallgren on October 2,
2014 that indicated Plaintiff would have approximately four
“bad days” per month which would cause her to
leave prematurely or be absent from work. Plaintiff would be
“off task” from her symptoms which would
interfere with attention needed to perform even simple tasks
twenty-five percent or more of the time. Plaintiff was found
to have extreme limitations in her ability to: understand and
remember detailed instructions; carry out detailed
instructions; complete a normal workday and workweek without
interruption from psychologically based symptoms and to
perform at a consistent pace without an ...