United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
ARTHUR F. TEDRICK, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Arthur F. Tedrick 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 AFFIRMED.
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 October 29, 1948, and was sixty-five years
old at the time of the most recent administrative hearing
(Tr. 54). He completed three semesters of college, and has
worked as a construction worker I and front-end loader (Tr.
21, 284). The claimant alleges inability to work since
November 1, 2005 due to osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, heart
problems, and high blood pressure (Tr. 284).
December 16, 2010, the claimant applied for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. His application was denied.
ALJ Osly F. Deramus conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated April 13, 2012 (Tr. 100-106), but the Appeals
Council vacated ALJ Deramus's opinion and remanded the
case back to him with instructions on remand to properly
consider the claimant's 100% service-connected disability
rating with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) (Tr.
112-113). On remand, ALJ Doug Gabbard, II, conducted a second
administrative hearing and again determined that the claimant
was not disabled in a written decision dated June 27, 2014
(Tr. 10-24). The Appeals Council then denied review, so ALJ
Gabbard's 2014 opinion is 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 medium unskilled work
(work which needs little or no judgment to do simple duties
that can be learned on the job in a short period of time),
but stated that the claimant must only occasionally be
required to understand, remember, and complete detailed
instructions because he has marked limitations in this area.
Furthermore, the ALJ found that the claimant's
supervision must be simple, direct, and concrete; that he
must work in a setting where he can frequently work alone
where interpersonal contact with supervisors and coworkers
must be incidental to the work performed (such as assembly
work); there must be no contact with the general public; and
he must avoid even moderate exposures to dust, fumes, gases,
odors, and other pulmonary irritants and humidity and wetness
(Tr. 17). 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., linen room attendant (Tr. 21-22).
claimant's sole contention of error is that the ALJ
improperly discounted the VA disability rating. The Court
finds this contention unpersuasive for the following reasons.
remand, ALJ Gabbard determined that the claimant had the
severe impairments of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
back and neck pain secondary to degenerative disc disease,
affective disorder, and substance addiction disorder
(alcohol, reportedly in remission), as well as the nonsevere
impairments of hypertension, ischemia of the left eye,
osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, multiple dental caries
requiring complete mandible and maxillary dentures, right leg
muscles gone, previous fracture of the hip in the 70s, legs
and feet numb, cerebrovascular disease, tobacco abuse,
obesity, GERD, erectile dysfunction, sleep disorder, and
surgical correction for testicular swelling (Tr. 14-15). The
medical evidence relevant to this appeal is largely treatment
notes from various Veteran's Administration treatment
facilities. The notes prior to the date last insured of June
30, 2006 reveal that alcohol abuse and PTSD were on the
claimant's “Problem List” at the VA (Tr.
377-378). There are, however, no mental health treatment
records related to that time (or thereafter), nor is there a
record that the claimant was prescribed mental health
medications. The notes largely reflect that the claimant had
vision problems related to high blood pressure in October
2005, and that he was treated ...