United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
BRADLEY W. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Bradley W. Johnson 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
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 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 April 25, 1991, and was twenty-two years
old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 140). He
has a high school education, vocational training in auto
mechanics, and no past relevant work (Tr. 34, 68). The
claimant alleges that he has been unable to work since an
amended onset date of March 8, 2012, due to depression,
schizophrenia, asthma, and panic disorder with agoraphobia
(Tr. 33, 36, 163).
March 12, 2012, the claimant applied for supplemental
security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85 (Tr. 140-48).
His application was denied. ALJ Bernard Porter held an
administrative hearing and determined that the claimant was
not disabled in a written opinion dated July 10, 2014 (Tr.
12-22). The Appeals Council denied review, so the ALJ's
written 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 light work as defined
in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b), except that he could
occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb ladders or
scaffolds, work around unprotected heights or moving
mechanical parts, or have concentrated exposure to humidity,
wetness, dust, fumes, or gasses; and must avoid temperature
extremes (Tr. 16). The ALJ further imposed the
psychologically-based limitations that the claimant was
limited to simple tasks and simple work-related decisions,
occasional interaction with supervisors and co-workers, and
no interaction with the public (Tr. 16). Additionally, the
ALJ found that the claimant would be off-task up to five
percent of the workday (Tr. 16). The ALJ then concluded that
although claimant had no past relevant work, he was
nevertheless not disabled because there was work he could
perform in the national economy, e. g.,
housekeeper/cleaner, small products assembler, and
inspector/packer (Tr. 20-21).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to properly:
(i) account for his moderate difficulty in maintaining
concentration, persistence, or pace; and (ii) evaluate the
medical evidence, specifically, the opinions of social
workers Ashley Brown-Boyd and Lori Bachman, and treating
physicians Dr. Dyson and Dr. Word. The Court agrees that the
ALJ did err in his analysis of the treating and “other
source” evidence, and the decision of the Commissioner
must therefore be reversed and the case remanded to the ALJ
for further proceedings.
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of anxiety
disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), depression,
personality disorder, asthma, and persistent left superior
vena cava (Tr. 15). The medical evidence related to the
claimant's mental impairments reveals that the claimant
was treated for panic disorder with agoraphobia at Southwest
Arkansas Counseling & Mental Health Center
(“SACMH”) from June 2007 through March 2013 (Tr.
283-370, 402-06, 409-10, 427-50). On October 23, 2007, the
claimant established care with psychologist Cathy Word,
Ph.D., an SACMH provider, who regularly treated him for panic
disorder until June 2011 (Tr. 314-36). Dr. Word generally
noted the claimant was making good progress towards treatment
goals, however, she did note a relapse of panic symptoms in
January 2010 after his grandmother was hospitalized (Tr.
323). On January 21, 2010, Dr. Word wrote a letter to the
claimant's high school requesting an accommodation due to
his anxiety and lasting until he no longer required
prescription anti-anxiety medication (Tr. 563-64).
Specifically, she requested that the claimant be allowed to