United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration denying Plaintiff's
application for disability insurance benefits under the
Social Security Act. The Commissioner has answered and filed
a transcript the administrative record (hereinafter TR. ___).
The parties have consented to jurisdiction over this matter
by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
parties have briefed their positions, and the matter is now
at issue. Based on the Court's review of the record and
the issues presented, the Court AFFIRMS the
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's application for disability insurance
benefits. Following an administrative hearing, an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable
decision. (TR. 11-22). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-4). Thus, the
decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the
THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required
by agency regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart,
431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September
17, 2011, the alleged disability onset date. (TR. 13). At
step two, the ALJ determined Ms. Stone had the following
severe impairments: obesity; post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD); generalized anxiety disorder; chronic sinusitis;
allergic rhinitis; asthma; and migraines. (TR. 13). At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not
meet or medically equal any of the presumptively disabling
impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1 (TR. 14).
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not capable of
performing her past relevant work. (TR. 20). The ALJ further
concluded that Ms. Stone retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to:
[L]ift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently. The claimant can sit for about 6 hours during an
eight-hour workday and can stand and walk for about 6 hours
during an eight-hour workday. The claimant can occasionally
climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant
is to avoid concentrated exposure to dusts, fumes, gases,
odors, and poor ventilation. The claimant can understand,
remember, and carry out simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks. The claimant can respond appropriately to supervisors,
co-workers, and usual work situations, but have no contact
with the general public.
this RFC, the ALJ made additional findings at step five.
There, the ALJ presented several limitations to a vocational
expert (VE) to determine whether there were other jobs in the
national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (TR. 59-61).
Given the limitations, the VE identified three jobs from the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). (TR. 60-61). The ALJ
adopted the testimony of the VE and concluded that Ms. Stone
was not disabled based on her ability to perform the
identified jobs. (TR. 21-22).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in failing to: (1)
include limitations in the RFC which reflected severe
impairments at step two and moderate restrictions at step
three, (2) properly evaluate a finding of disability from the
Veteran's Administration (VA), and (3) properly evaluate
opinions from three physicians.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews the Commissioner's final “decision to
determin[e] whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record and whether the correct
legal standards were applied.” Wilson v.
Astrue, 602 F.3d 1136, 1140 (10th Cir. 2010).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted).
the court considers whether the ALJ followed the applicable
rules of law in weighing particular types of evidence in
disability cases, the court will “neither reweigh the
evidence nor substitute [its] judgment for that of the
agency.” Vigil v. Colvin, 805 F.3d 1199, 1201
(10th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted).
NO ERROR IN THE RFC
Stone alleges that the RFC failed to include specific
limitations which reflected the ALJ's findings at steps
two and three. (ECF No. 22:2-13). The Court disagrees.
ALJ's Duty in Assessing the RFC-Physical & Mental
assessing an individual's mental impairment, the ALJ must
employ a “special technique” which involves
rating the degree of functional limitation under four broad
functional areas. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520a(b)-(c). This
assessment is documented on a Psychiatric Review Technique
(PRT) form and is used to rate the severity of the mental
impairment at steps two and three of the sequential
evaluation process. See SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184,
at *6-7 (July 2, 1996).
four requires a more detailed assessment by itemizing various
functions contained in the broad categories summarized on the
PRT. Id. In assessing the RFC for both physical and
mental impairments, the ALJ must consider the limitations and
restrictions imposed by a claimant's severe impairments
and express any limitations in terms of specific,
work-related activities he or she is able to perform.
Id., at *6-7.
No Reversible Error ...