United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. McCARTHY, United States Magistrate Judge
Aaron Charles Brown, 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 35 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 40 on the date of the ALJ's denial decision He has a
high school education with some college education and
formerly worked as a non commissioned officer in the Navy and
switch gear technician. He claims to have been unable to work
since March 3, 2010 as a result of back pain, status post
L5-S1 fusion and degenerative disc disease, bilateral wrist
pain, pain in both knees and status post two ACL
reconstructions of the left knee, obesity, depression, and
determined that Plaintiff retains the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to lift/carry or push/pull 20 pounds
occasionally or 10 pound frequently. In an 8-hour day the ALJ
found Plaintiff can stand/walk for 6 hours and can sit for
6-8 hours. He can occasionally climb stairs, balance,
bend/stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. He cannot climb ladders
ropes, or scaffolds. He can engage in frequent bilateral
fingering, handling, and feeling. He requires an
air-conditioned work environment. He can perform simple,
repetitive tasks and some moderately complex tasks allowing
semi-skilled work. He is limited to superficial contact with
coworkers, supervisors, and the public. [R. 13].
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 committed reversible error by failing to
properly evaluate the opinion of his treating physician, Dr.
is required to give controlling weight to a treating
physician's opinion if the opinion is both: (1) well
supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques; and (2) consistent with other
substantial evidence in the record. Branum v.
Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1275 (10th Cir. 2004).
"[I]f the opinion is deficient in either of these
respects, then it is not entitled to controlling
weight." Watkins v. Barnhart, 350 F.3d 1297,
1300 (10th Cir. 2003). Even if a treating physician's
opinion is not entitled to controlling weight,
"[t]reating source medical opinions are still entitled
to deference and must be weighed using all of the factors
provided in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527." Id.
(quotation omitted). If the ALJ rejects the opinion
completely, specific legitimate reasons must be given for
doing so. Miller v. Chater, 99 F.3d 972, 976 (10th
Cir. 1996), Frey v. Bowen, 816 F.2d 508, 513 (10th
record contains a Medical Source Statement of Ability to do
Work-Related Activities (physical) completed on June 26, 2014
by Plaintiff's treating physician, Earl G. Cornell, M.D.
[R. 1413-1414]. The ALJ accurately summarized Dr.
Cornell's opinion as defining Plaintiff as being very
limited. [R. 15]. Dr. Cornell indicated Plaintiff could
occasionally lift 10 pounds and frequently lift less than 10
pounds. He could stand/walk for 30 minutes at one time for a
total of less than 2 hours in an 8-hour workday. He could sit
for 1 to 2 hours at a time for a total of less than 2 hours
in an 8-hour workday. Dr. Cornell also noted that Plaintiff
required a one-point cane for ambulation. He stated that he
could not perform a job on a continuing and sustained ...