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Giroux v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

November 14, 2017

BRYAN GIROUX, 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 applications 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 applications initially and on reconsideration. Following an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 10-20). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-4). Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         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. §§ 404.1520 & 416.920. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) since May 1, 2013, the alleged disability onset date. (TR. 12). At step two, the ALJ determined that Mr. Giroux had the following severe impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, dysthymic disorder, and cognitive disorder, NOS. (TR. 12). 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 he could:

[P]erform a full range of work at all exertional levels, but with the following non-exertional limitations: the claimant can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; the claimant can respond appropriately to supervisors, coworkers, and usual work situations, but he can have no contact with the general public.

         (TR. 16). Then, “[u]nder the expedited process, ” the ALJ moved past step four, and at step five, he presented several hypothetical questions to a vocational expert (VE) to determine whether there were jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (TR. 18, 52). The VE identified three jobs from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. (TR. 52). The ALJ adopted the VE's testimony and concluded that Mr. Giroux was not disabled based on his ability to perform the identified jobs. (TR. 19).

         III. ISSUES PRESENTED

         On appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in: (1) assessing the consultative evaluation opinion from Dr. Julie Wallace; (2) failing to consider whether Plaintiff could perform the relevant work on a consistent basis; (3) improperly relying on Plaintiff's daily activities; and (4) crafting an improper question to the VE.

         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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