United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCCARTHY United States Magistrate Judge.
Dana Marie Durborow (also known as Dana Marie Batie), 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 52 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 53 on the date of the ALJ's denial decision. She has
a high school education and formerly worked as a housekeeping
cleaner, gambling cashier, and fence builder. She claims to
have been unable to work since May 15, 2013 as a result of
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, obesity,
bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.
determined that Plaintiff retains the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567(b) with the limitation of performing simple
tasks with routine supervision, she can relate to co-workers
and supervisors on a superficial work basis, but cannot
relate to the public. [R. 45]. The ALJ found that she can
perform her past relevant work as a housekeeping cleaner and
further, 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 four of the
five-step evaluative sequence for determining whether a
claimant is disabled with an alternative step five finding.
See Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th
Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in detail).
asserts that the ALJ erred in failing to give greater weight
to the opinions expressed by her treating therapist and
counselor, Ty Wood, M.A., L.P.C., B.H.C., and that failure
affected the RFC finding.
Security Ruling (SSR) 06-3p, 2006 WL 2329939, requires that
opinions even from those who are not “acceptable
medical sources” be evaluated and weighed. According to
SSR 06-3p, information from those who are not
“acceptable medical sources” cannot establish the
existence of a medically determinable impairment, but
information from those “other sources” may be
based on special knowledge of the individual and may provide
insight into the severity of the impairment and how it
affects the ability to function. Id. at *2.
Accordingly, SSR 06-3p instructs that information from
“other sources” should be evaluated on the basis
of how long the source has known the claimant and how
frequently the source has seen the individual, the
consistency with the other evidence, the degree to which the
source presents relevant evidence to support an opinion, how
well the source explains the opinion, whether the source has
a particular expertise related to the individual's
impairment, and any other factors that tend to support or
refute the opinion. Id. at * 5.
stated he gave little or no weight to the opinion of Mr. Wood
that Plaintiff was markedly limited: in the ability to
complete a normal workday and workweek without interruption
from psychologically based symptoms and to perform at a
consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of
rest periods; and in the ability to accept instructions and
respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors. [R. 50,
402]. Plaintiff argues that the reasons the ALJ stated in his
decision for affording Mr. Wood's opinion little weight
are not sound or well-supported by the record as a whole.
conformity with the Commissioner's regulations, 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1513(d), 416.913(d), the ALJ noted that Mr. Wood
is not an acceptable medical source, but that his evidence
could be used to show the severity of an impairment or how it
affects an individual's ability to work. [R. 50]. The ALJ
accurately noted that Mr. Wood had only treated Plaintiff for
two months at the time he issued his opinion about
Plaintiff's ability to perform work-related activities.
Further, the ALJ observed that Mr. Wood's treatment dealt
mainly with family issues and conflict. The ALJ stated ...