United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
J. Cleary United States Magistrate Judge
Helen Darlene Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), seeks
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”)
denying her application for disability insurance benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401 et seq. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision is REVERSED
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 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.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. See also Wall v. Astrue, 561
F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (detailing steps). “If
a determination can be made at any of the steps that a
claimant is or is not disabled, evaluation under a subsequent
step is not necessary.” Lax, 489 F.3d at 1084
(citation and quotation omitted).
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hamlin v.
Barnhart, 365 F.3d 1208, 1214 (10th Cir. 2004).
evidence is such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept
as adequate to support a conclusion. It requires more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance.”
Wall, 561 F.3d at 1052 (quotation and citation
omitted). Although the court will not reweigh the evidence,
the court will “meticulously examine the record as a
whole, including anything that may undercut or detract from
the ALJ's findings in order to determine if the
substantiality test has been met.” Id.
was fifty-one years old on the alleged date of onset of
disability and fifty-five years old on the date of the
Commissioner's final decision. She has a high school
education. (R. 33). She has previous experience as a dump
truck driver; as an over-the-road truck driver; as a
dispatcher; as a customer service representative; and as a
cashier. (R. 33). In her application, she claimed to be
unable to work as a result of hypothyroidism, rheumatoid
arthritis, osteoarthritis, anxiety, major depression,
fibromyalgia, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome
(“IBS)”, ADD, and spastic colon. (R. 191).
The ALJ's Decision
decision, the ALJ found that Rodriguez met insured status
requirements through December 31, 2016, and, at Step One,
that she had not engaged in any substantial gainful activity
since March 31, 2012, the alleged onset date. (R. 27). He
found at Step Two that Rodriguez had severe impairments of
hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
(“RA”), fibromyalgia, and spastic colon/IBS.
Id. At Step Three, he found that the impairments did
not meet or medically equal any listing. (R. 29). He
concluded that Rodriguez had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) “to perform the full range of
‘light' work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b).” Id. At Step Four, the ALJ
determined that, based on the RFC, Rodriguez was unable to
perform any past relevant work. (R. 32). At Step Five, he
found that, considering Rodriguez's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy that
she could perform, including mail clerk, light unskilled
work, DOT #209.687-026, 18, 000 jobs in Oklahoma and 149, 000
jobs nationally; electrical assembly, light work, DOT
#729.687-010, 16, 000 jobs in Oklahoma and 172, 000 jobs
nationally; and production inspector, light work, DOT
#713.684-050, 17, 000 jobs in Oklahoma and 195, 000 jobs
nationally. (R. 33).
the ALJ found that Rodriguez had not been under a disability
from March 31, 2102, through the date of the decision. (R.
appeal, Rodriguez asserts that: (1) the ALJ failed to
properly weigh the medical opinion evidence and failed to
properly determine Rodriguez's residual functional
capacity; and (2) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate