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Troutman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

September 15, 2017

HAROLD RAY TROUTMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          FRANK H. McCARTHY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, HAROLD RAY TROUTMAN, seeks judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying disability benefits.[1] In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

         Standard of Review

         The 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).

         Background

         Plaintiff was 56 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability and 58 on the date of the denial decision. Plaintiff has a high school education and completed two years of college. His past work experience includes work as a handyman[2]. Plaintiff claims to have become disabled as of December 5, 2013 due to ruptured disk in neck, herniated disk in lower back, ankle problems, knee problems, and Hepatitis C. [R. 185].

         The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff has severe impairments relating to degenerative joint disease of the knees; arthralgias of the spine and ankles; and obesity. [R. 18]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work in that he can lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand/walk for 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday; and sit for 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday. [R. 19]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff is unable to perform any 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. 25, 26]. 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's Allegations

         Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ's findings at step five of the sequential evaluation process were not supported by substantial evidence. [Dkt. 15');">15');">15');">15, p. 3].

         Analysis

         Step Five Determination

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in finding he possessed transferable contract negotiation skills from his past relevant work as a handyman. Further, that Plaintiff could work as a general building contractor with only the transferable skills of contract negotiation and cost estimation. [Dkt. 15');">15');">15');">15, p. 4]. The claimant is considered to have transferable skills when skilled or semi-skilled work activities the claimant did in past work can be used ...


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