United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
JERRY L. PATTERSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jerry L. Patterson (the “Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
application for disability benefits under the Social Security
Act. Claimant appeals the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and asserts that the Commissioner
erred because the ALJ incorrectly determined that Claimant
was not disabled. For the reasons discussed below, it is the
finding of this Court that the Commissioner's decision
should be and is 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. . .” 42 U.S.C. §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.
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is
limited to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997)(citation
omitted). The term “substantial evidence” has
been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to
require “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)). The court may not re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “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 800-01.
was 55 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed his education through the ninth grade.
Claimant has worked in the past as a coal miner. Claimant
alleges an inability to work beginning March 20, 2009 due to
limitations resulting from emphysema, hypertension, low blood
sugar, and spine issues.
August 14, 2013, Claimant protectively filed for disability
insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401,
et seq.) and on August 15, 2013, Claimant filed for
supplemental security income under Title XVI (42 U.S.C.
§ 1381, et seq.) of the Social Security Act.
Claimant's applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. On July 27, 2015, an administrative hearing
was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Lantz McClain by video with Claimant appearing in Poteau,
Oklahoma and the ALJ presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. By
decision dated August 26, 2015, the ALJ denied Claimant's
request for benefits. The Appeals Council denied review of
the ALJ's decision on November 30, 2015. As a result, the
decision of the ALJ represents the Commissioner's final
decision for purposes of further appeal. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work with limitations.
Alleged for Review Claimant asserts the ALJ
committed error in (1) failing to determine an appropriate
RFC; (2) failing to properly evaluate Claimant's ability
to perform the representative jobs at step five; and (3)
failing to order a consultative mental examination.
decision, the ALJ found Claimant suffered from the severe
impairment of emphysema in a smoker and hypertension. (Tr.
15). The ALJ determined Claimant retained the RFC to perform
light work. In so doing, the ALJ found Claimant could
occasionally lift/carry 20 pounds and frequently lift/carry
ten pounds, stand/walk at least six hours in an eight hour
workday with normal breaks, sit at ...