United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
RODNEY E. BOWDEN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Rodney E. Bowden 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 the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining he was not disabled. For the reasons set forth
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby REVERSED and
the case is 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 on April 12, 1966, and was forty-eight
years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 34,
117). He completed the eleventh grade while attending special
education classes, and has worked as a construction laborer
(Tr. 23, 133). The claimant alleges that he has been unable
to work since May 16, 2011, due to deep depression and back
problems (Tr. 133).
16, 2011, the claimant applied for supplemental security
income payments under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. His application was denied.
ALJ J. Frederick Gatzke held an administrative hearing and
determined the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion
dated June 6, 2014 (Tr. 11-25). The Appeals Council denied
review, so the ALJ's opinion is the Commissioner's
final decision for purposes of this appeal. See 20
C.F.R. § 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that the claimant had the RFC to perform light
work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b), except that
he was precluded from work around dangerous moving machinery.
Furthermore, the ALJ determined that the claimant must avoid
work that requires no more than occasional collaboration with
co-workers with only superficial contact with the public and
simple one to two step job instructions (Tr. 17). The ALJ
found that although the claimant could not return to his past
relevant work, he was nevertheless not disabled because there
was work that he was capable of performing, i. e.,
janitor, hand packer, and assembler (Tr. 23-24).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred: (i) by failing to
properly assess his impairments with regard to the Listings,
particularly as to Listing 12.05C in the Medical-Vocational
Guidelines, and (ii) by failing to properly consider the
evidence regarding his mental impairments. The undersigned
Magistrate Judge finds that the ALJ did fail to
properly determine whether the claimant satisfied the
criteria of Listing 12.05C, and the decision of the
Commissioner should therefore be reversed.
claimant reported in his application that he completed the
eleventh grade and attended special education classes (Tr.
133). Additionally, the claimant testified at the
administrative hearing that he was in special education
classes while in school, and that he did not have a