United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
GREGORY G. HOLSEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
claimant Gregory G. Holsey requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). He
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining he was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby REVERSED and
REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings.
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 Social Security 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[.]” Id. § 423 (d)(2)(A). Social
security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to two inquiries: whether the
decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997).
Substantial evidence is “more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971),
quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S.
197, 229 (1938). See also Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d
1007, 1009 (10th Cir. 1996). The Court may not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its discretion for the
Commissioner's. See Casias v. Secretary of Health
& Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir.
1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and
“[t]he substantiality of the evidence must take into
account whatever in the record fairly detracts from its
weight.” Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340
U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also Casias, 933 F.2d at
claimant was born November 7, 1973, and was forty-one years
old at the time of the most recent administrative hearing
(Tr. 112, 408). He completed a GED in 1996, and has
previously worked as a delivery route driver, pizza delivery
driver, dish washer, prep cook, and animal caretaker (though
not all jobs were performed at the SGA level) (Tr. 148, 367).
The claimant alleges inability to work since August 5, 2007,
due to depression, ADD, social anxiety, and alcoholism (Tr.
September 29, 2009, the claimant applied for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. The application was denied.
ALJ David W. Engel conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated September 20, 2011 (Tr. 13-27), but the
Northern District of Oklahoma reversed in Case No.
CIV-13-142-GKF-PJC, and remanded with further instructions
(Tr. 462-481). On remand, ALJ Engel conducted a second
administrative hearing and again determined the claimant was
not disabled in a written opinion date August 17, 2015. The
Appeals Council again denied review, so ALJ Engel's 2015
written opinion represents the Commissioner's final
decision for purposes of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He found that the claimant had the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform a range of medium, light, or
sedentary exertion work, but that he was unable to work in
environments where he would be exposed to unprotected heights
and dangerous moving machinery parts. Additionally, he found
that the claimant could understand, remember, and carry out
simple instructions only in a work-related setting; he could
interact with co-workers and supervisors under routine
supervision; and he could interact occasionally with the
general public, whether in person or over the phone (Tr.
260). The ALJ further stated that the claimant was afflicted
with symptoms from a variety of sources to include
depression, learning disorder, and anxiety, which were of
sufficient severity to be noticeable to him at all times, but
that the claimant was nevertheless able to remain attentive
and responsive in a work setting, and that he would be able
to perform work assignments within the above-cited
limitations (Tr. 360). The ALJ concluded that although the
claimant could not return to his past relevant work, he was
nevertheless not disabled because there was work he could
perform, i. e., hand packager, housekeeper, and
document preparer (Tr. 367-369).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by: (i) by failing to
properly consider the medical evidence, including a
consultative examiner's opinion and the state reviewing
physician opinions, and (ii) by ignoring a number of
impairments and limitations related to his mental
impairments. Because the ALJ does appear to have ignored
probative evidence regarding the claimant's impairments,
the decision of the Commissioner must be reversed.
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
organic mental disorder, anxiety, and depression (Tr. 358).
The mental health evidence in the record indicates that the
claimant was treated by Dr. Troy Goldberg, M.D. from part of
2008 to the first half of 2009, who managed his medications
at this time (Tr. 220-227). It appears that Dr. Goldberg
assessed the claimant with social anxiety disorder, and
treatment notes reflect that the claimant reported moods
ranging from “ok” to “down, ” ...