United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CRYSTAL G. JACOBS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Crystal G. Jacobs brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying Plaintiff's application for
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. The
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States
Magistrate Judge. Upon review of the administrative record
(Doc. No. 8, hereinafter “R. ”), and the
arguments and authorities submitted by the parties, the Court
reverses the Commissioner's decision and remands the case
for further proceedings.
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
protectively filed her SSI application on May 21, 2012,
alleging disability due to several physical conditions. R.
198, 241, 245. Following denial of her application initially
and on reconsideration, a hearing was held before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on September 3,
2014. R. 7-30. In addition to Plaintiff, a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified at the hearing. R. 31, 36-55.
The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on January 12, 2015.
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine entitlement to disability benefits. See Wall
v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009); 20
C.F.R. § 416.920. At step one, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since May 21, 2012. R. 12. At step two, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of degenerative
disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome by history, and obesity.
R. 12-20. At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's
condition did not meet or equal any of the presumptively
disabling impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1 (the “Listings”). R. 20.
next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all of her medically
determinable impairments. R. 20-23. The ALJ found:
[Plaintiff] has the [RFC] to lift and carry 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. [Plaintiff] can sit
for about 6 hours during an eight-hour workday and can stand
and walk for about 6 hours during an eight-hour workday.
[She] can occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch,
and crawl. [Plaintiff] can frequently handle and finger.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's RFC allowed her to
perform her past relevant work of Cashier (Box Office
Attendant). R. 23. The ALJ therefore concluded that Plaintiff
had not been disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act during the relevant time period. R. 24.
request for review by the SSA Appeals Council was denied, and
the unfavorable determination of the ALJ stands as the
Commissioner's final decision. See R. 1-4; 20
C.F.R. § 416.1481.
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether
correct legal standards were applied. Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is
a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it.” Branum
v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court
“meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, ”
including any evidence “that may undercut or detract
from the ALJ's findings, ” “to determine if
the substantiality test has been met.” Wall,
561 F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation marks omitted). While
the court considers whether the Commissioner followed
applicable rules of law in weighing particular types of
evidence in disability cases, the court does not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its own judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272
(10th Cir. 2008).
action, Plaintiff argues that remand is required because (i)
the ALJ failed to properly evaluate Plaintiff's
cervical-spine impairment and resulting limitations, and (ii)
the ALJ erred in finding that Plaintiff could return to her
past relevant work. S ...