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Hutson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

November 14, 2017

DAKOTA HUTSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHON T. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff 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 benefits under the Social Security Act. The Commissioner has answered and filed a transcript of 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. § 636(c).

         The 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 Commissioner's decision.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's application initially and on reconsideration. Following an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 11-24). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-6). Thus, the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision.

         II. THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         The ALJ 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. § 416.920. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) since December 23, 2013, the alleged amended disability onset date. (TR. 13). At step two, the ALJ determined that Ms. Hutson had the following severe impairments: borderline intellectual functioning; mood disorder; adult antisocial behavior; and a history of polysubstance abuse. (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).

         The ALJ next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC) and found she could:

[P]erform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: no more than simple, routine, repetitive tasks with no strict production requirements; and no more than simple work-related decision making with few, if any, changes in the work setting; no public contact; no more than occasional contact with co-workers and supervisors; no joint, team, or tandem tasks; and no more than a second grade reading and math level required.

(TR. 15-16). Then, at step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had no past relevant work. (TR. 22). Finally, at step five, the ALJ presented a vocational expert (VE) with a hypothetical question including the limitations found in Plaintiff's RFC to determine whether there were jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (TR. 67- 69). The VE identified three jobs from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). (TR. 68-69). The ALJ adopted the VE's testimony and concluded that Ms. Hutson was not disabled based on her ability to perform the identified jobs. (TR. 22-23).

         III. ISSUES PRESENTED

         On appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in: (1) failing to discuss the relevant factors required in C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, § 12.00(A), (C); (2) failing to include functional limitations in the RFC stemming from her severe antisocial behavior; (3) ignoring Plaintiff's GAF score; (4) failing to consider whether Plaintiff could perform the relevant work on a consistent basis; (5) crafting an improper question to the VE; and (6) finding Plaintiff could perform the national jobs with a limitation to second grade reading.[1]

         IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This 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). ‚ÄúSubstantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a ...


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