United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Sarinda Lee Riddle requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she 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 h[er] physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that [s]he is not only
unable to do h[er] previous work but cannot, considering
h[er] 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 15, 1969, and was forty-four years
old at the time of the most recent administrative hearing
(Tr. 118, 903). She attended college several years, and has
worked as an office manager, show hostess, and shelter
monitor (Tr. 921-22). The claimant alleges that she has been
unable to work since September 19, 2003, due to end stage
renal disease, arthritis, gastroparesis, erosive esophagitis,
high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, and anemia (Tr.
February 24, 2012, the claimant applied for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and for supplemental security
income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. Her applications were denied.
ALJ Osly F. Deramus conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated September 8, 2009 (Tr. 13-21). The Appeals
Council denied review, but this Court reversed the decision
of the Commissioner in Case No. CIV-11-83-SPS and remanded
the case to the ALJ with instructions to further analyze the
claimant's treating physicians' opinions (Tr.
945-57). ALJ Doug Gabbard, II conducted a second
administrative hearing and determined that the claimant was
not disabled in a written opinion dated April 23, 2014 (Tr.
855-71). The Appeals Council denied review, so the ALJ's
April 2014 opinion is the final decision of the Commissioner
for purposes of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at steps four and five of the sequential
evaluation. He found that the claimant had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary
work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a),
416.967(a), with occasional climbing, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling; no balancing; and no overhead
reaching (Tr. 861). Additionally, the ALJ found the claimant
required the option to alternate sitting and standing every
fifteen to thirty minutes throughout the workday without
leaving the workstation (Tr. 861). The ALJ then concluded
that the claimant was not disabled because she could return
to her past relevant work as an office manager, and
alternatively because there was work she could perform in the
national economy, i. e., appointment clerk,
telephone solicitor (Tr. 869-71).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to: (i)
properly evaluate the opinions of treating providers Dr.
Kumar, Dr. Stafford, and Mr. Strong; and (ii) properly
evaluate her subjective complaints of fatigue and pain. The
Court finds the claimant's contentions unpersuasive for
the following reasons.
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of renal
disease, diabetes with neuropathy, obesity, arthritis, and
status post arthroscopic bilateral shoulder surgery, but that
her hypertension, chest pain, retinopathy, chronic fatigue,
anemia, hypothyroidism, obstructive sleep apnea, joint
problems, hip and knee problems, elbow pain, back pain,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, allergies, skin lesion,
dizziness, hyperprolactinemia, and depression were non-severe
(Tr. 858). The relevant medical record reveals that that the
claimant was hospitalized with chronic renal insufficiency on
September 27, 2003, January 2, 2004, and March 12, 2004, and
with acute renal failure on June 6, 2004, and August 9, 2004
(Tr. 223-28, 253-54, 267-68, 293-94, 300-01). Dr. Satish
Kumar, a nephrologist, consistently monitored the
claimant's kidney functioning from October 2003 through
October 2012, and after 2004 regularly noted her kidney
disease was stable and included no related limitations in his
notes (Tr. 487, 496, 504, 513, 524-41, 1266, 1301, 1309,
1404, 1433, 1448, 1459). On November 7, 2005, Dr. Kumar
completed a Medical Source Statement (“MSS”) in
connection with the claimant's application for Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families (“TANF”) wherein he
opined that the claimant ...