United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
MELISSA J. CRAWFORD, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
H. McCARTHY United States Magistrate Judge.
MELISSA J. CRAWFORD, 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, 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 32 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 47 on the date of the denial decision. Plaintiff has a
high school education and her past work experience includes
customer service representative. Plaintiff claims to have
become disabled as of January 1, 2001 due to manic depression
and bipolar disorder. [R. 128].
found that Plaintiff has severe impairments relating to
bipolar disorder. [R. 245]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff
has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range
of work at all exertional levels but is limited to simple
repetitive tasks which require no more than superficial
contact with supervisors or coworkers, and does not require
interaction with the public. [R. 246]. The ALJ determined
that Plaintiff has no past relevant work but found based on
the testimony of the vocational expert, there are a
significant number of jobs in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform. [R. 251, 253]. 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 properly evaluate the medical
evidence. [Dkt. 13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13, p. 5].
argues that the ALJ did not give proper weight to the opinion
of treating psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Rao, M.D. Further, the
ALJ failed to perform the required analysis to determine the
proper weight to give Dr. Rao's opinion after determining
it was not entitled to controlling weight. [Dkt. 13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13');">13, p. 8].
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
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 ...