United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCCARTHY, United States Magistrate Judge
Bonnie Sue Wilkins, 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 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, 20');">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 48 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 53 years old on the date of the denial decision. She
completed the 10th grade and received her General Education
Diploma (GED). Plaintiff's past work experience includes
CNA, housekeeper, concessions worker, and institutional cook.
[R. 20, 78-79]. Plaintiff claims to have been unable to work
since January 1, 2010 due to rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes,
diabetic neuropathy, high blood pressure, severe migraines,
chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. [R. 88-89, 209-18');">18');">18');">18,
ALJ determined that the Plaintiff's severe impairments
include diabetes mellitus; mild osteoarthritis; degenerative
joint disease of right knee, status-post right knee
arthroscopy; hypertension; depression; dysthymia; and
anxiety. [R. 13]. The ALJ further determined that Plaintiff
has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light
exertional work. Plaintiff cannot climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. She
can frequently balance, occasionally bend, stoop, crouch, and
kneel, but cannot crawl. Plaintiff is limited to simple,
unskilled work, and can only have infrequent contact with the
general public. [R. 15]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff
could not return to her 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).
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ: 1) failed to properly
evaluate the medical opinion evidence; and 2) the residual
functional capacity (RFC) assessment pertaining to standing
and walking was not supported by substantial evidence. [Dkt.
18');">18');">18');">18, p. 6].
argues that the ALJ erred in his analysis of the opinion of
state agency non- examining psychologist, Dr.
restricting Plaintiff to superficial coworker interaction.
Plaintiff also argues the ALJ disregarded the limitation of
the number of coworkers Plaintiff may interact with. Further,
because the vocational expert was not given an opportunity to
address the effect a limited amount of coworker interaction
would have on the jobs relied upon to deny Plaintiff
benefits, the error is not harmless. [Dkt. 18');">18');">18');">18, p. 11].
November 13, 2013, at the reconsideration level, Dr. SDS
opined that Plaintiff could understand, remember, and carry
out simple and some complex instructions with routine
supervision; could relate to supervision and a limited number
of coworkers on a superficial work basis; a moderate
limitation in relating to the general public; and can adapt
to a work environment. [R. 130-36]. The ALJ stated he gave
“great” weight to the opinion of Dr. SDS to the
extent Plaintiff was capable of performing simple work tasks
with limited public contact. The ALJ determined, however,
that the ...