United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
ROBERT E. CRAGG, JR., Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
claimant Robert E. Cragg, Jr., requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The
claimant appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts
that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred
in determining he was not disabled. As 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 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 on August 18, 1983, and was thirty years
old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 62). He
completed high school, and has worked as a fast food worker,
fast food cook, tractor driver, trust worker, and farm worker
(Tr. 53, 164). The claimant alleges he has been unable to
work since May 16, 2009, due to bipolar disorder and
depression (Tr. 45, 163).
claimant applied for disability insurance benefits under
Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-434, on March 28, 2012 and for supplemental security
income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85, on April 23, 2012. His
applications were denied. ALJ Richard J. Kallsnick conducted
an administrative hearing and found that the claimant was not
disabled in a written opinion dated April 9, 2014 (Tr.
45-54). The Appeals Council denied review, so the ALJ's
written opinion is the final decision of the Commissioner for
purposes of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R. §§
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his final decision at step five of the sequential
evaluation. He found that the claimant retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full
range of work at all exertional levels, but with the
nonexertional limitations of performing simple tasks with
routine supervision, relating to supervisors and peers on a
superficial work basis, and that he can adapt to a work
situation, but cannot relate to the general public (Tr. 49).
The ALJ then 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., industrial cleaner, light hand packer, sorter, and
sedentary hand packer (Tr. 53-54).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by: (i) failing to
properly assess his RFC, and (ii) failing to properly account
for the opinion of one of his treatment providers. The Court
agrees with both of these contentions, and the
Commissioner's decision should therefore be reversed for
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
bipolar disorder and panic disorder (Tr. 48). The relevant
medical evidence in the record indicates that the claimant
has been treated for a number of years for bipolar disorder
and insomnia since prior to the alleged onset date (Tr.
230-295). Treatment notes indicate the claimant frequently
reported medications not working, or there was a need to
adjust/strengthen doses (Tr. 230-295) Additionally, the