United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCCARTHY United States Magistrate Judge
Tommy Jack Woods, seeks judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
Social Security 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 record as a whole contains
substantial evidence to support the decision and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. 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, 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., 933 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 38 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and nearly 44 on the date of the ALJ's denial decision.
He has a high school education and formerly worked as a
foundry worker and forklift operator. He claims to have been
unable to work since June 1, 2009 as a result of depression,
bipolar disorder, polysubstance dependence in sustained
partial remission, organic brain injury, as well as back,
hand, knee, shoulder and leg pain.
determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform a range of light work with some
environmental and postural limitations and the ability to
change positions from time to time. Taking note of his
depression, anxiety, bipolar, and history of substance abuse,
and intending to limit stress and contact, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff is restricted to simple, repetitive, and routine
work. The ALJ also found that Plaintiff should have limited
contact with the public, co-workers, and supervisors. Contact
with the public should be brief, cursory, and incidental. If
work is on an assembly line, he should have enough space
between him and co-workers that he does not have to socially
interact. He is able to attend employee meetings, shift
meetings, and meetings of that nature, but should no be an
integral member of a team that will participate in goal
setting and process planning, etc. [Dkt. 24].
Plaintiff is unable to perform his past relevant work, based
on the testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined
that there are a significant number of jobs in the national
economy that Plaintiff could perform with these limitations.
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 erred in finding that Plaintiff had only
a moderate limitation in social functioning and that the RFC
is not supported by substantial evidence because the RFC does
not fully incorporate the limitations found by the
consultative examiner to whose opinions the ALJ gave great
there is evidence of a mental impairment that allegedly
prevents a claimant from working, the ALJ must follow the
procedure for evaluating mental impairments set forth in the
regulations and is required to document the application of
the procedure, known as the psychiatric review technique
(PRT), in the decision. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520a(e),
416.920a(e), Carpenter v. Astrue, 537 F.3d 1264,
1268 (10th Cir. 2008)(discussing application of the
psychiatric review technique by the ALJ), Cruse v. United
States Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 49 F.3d
614, 617 (10th Cir. 1995) (same). The procedure for
evaluating alleged mental impairments requires the ALJ to
consider the effect of the mental impairment on four broad
areas of functioning known as the “paragraph B”
criteria: activities of daily living; social functioning;
concentration, persistence or pace; and episodes of
decompensation of extended duration. See 20 C.F.R.,
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, § 12.00 (C). The PRT is
used to assess mental impairments for purposes of steps two
(identifying severe impairments) and three (rating severity
for the listings). See generally 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520a, 416.920a. Many of the mental listings include the
PRT ratings in the four areas of functioning contained in the
Paragraph B criteria in their requirements.
area of social functioning, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has
moderate difficulties. [R. 23]. Plaintiff argues that this
area should have been rated “marked” because
consultative mental examiner, Melinda Shaver, Psy.D.,
completed a Medical Source Statement of Ability to do
Work-Related Activities (Mental) wherein she rated Plaintiff
as having a “marked” limitation in the ability to
interact appropriately with supervisors. [R. 352]. According
to Plaintiff, the ALJ committed clear error by not citing to
Dr. Shaver's report for his finding ...