United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
DARRIN T. BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
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 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).
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 REVERSES AND
REMANDS the Commissioner's decision for further
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. 149-165). The Appeals Council granted
Plaintiff's request for review and remanded for further
administrative findings. (TR. 176-177). Following two more
administrative hearings, the ALJ issued a second unfavorable
decision. (TR. 19-35). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-3). 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 July 1, 2012,
the alleged disability onset date. (TR. 21). At step two, the
ALJ determined Mr. Bradley had the following severe
osteoarthritis primarily affecting the cervical and lumbar
spine, as well as the right knee, wrist, and hand; shoulder
tendonitis and bursitis; asthma and chronic bronchitis;
status-post traumatic brain injury; PTSD; sleep apnea; major
depressive disorder; and obesity.
(TR. 21). 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. 22).
four, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Bradley retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a)
except the claimant is able to occasionally switch between
sitting and standing at the work station without a loss of
productivity; occasionally push/pull with the upper and lower
extremities; occasionally climb ramps and stairs but never
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolding; occasionally balance,
stoop, kneel, and crouch but never crawl. He has no
manipulative, visual, or communicative limitations, but must
not work at unprotected heights, around dangerous moving
equipment or machinery, or on uneven or unstable work
surfaces. He must not work around dust, fumes, odors,
extremes of temperature, or other respiratory irritants. The
claimant can understand, remember comprehend, and carry out
simple instructions and tasks; can work with co-workers and
supervisors on a superficial work basis; can adapt to routine
work changes in the work environment; but cannot work with
the general public on more than a superficial or ancillary
(TR. 24). With this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was
not capable of performing his past relevant work and
proceeded to step five. (TR. 33).
five, 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. 89).
Given the limitations, the VE identified three jobs from the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). (TR. 90). The ALJ
adopted the testimony of the VE and concluded that Mr.
Bradley was not disabled based on his ability to perform the
identified jobs. (TR. 34-35).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred: (1) by failing to
include certain physical limitations in the RFC, (2) by
failing to include certain mental limitations in the RFC, and
(3) by failing to consider the effects of various impairments
and Plaintiff's medications.
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).
ERROR IN THE CONSIDERATION OF PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
allowed for “no manipulative limitations, ” but
Mr. Bradley contends that evidence exists which would
“mandate at a minimum an occasional limitation on
handling with his dominant right hand.” (ECF No. 23:6).
The Court agrees.
Evidence Concerning Plaintiff's Ability to
record contains four opinions regarding Plaintiff's
ability to “handle.” Initially, and on
reconsideration of Mr. Bradley's application for
disability insurance benefits, two agency physicians
concluded that Mr. Bradley had “some difficulty
grasping firmly with [right] hand due to [osteoarthritis] and
should avoid work situations with repetitive grasping.”
(TR. 128, 141); see Social Security Ruling 85-15,
Titles II and XVI: Capability to Do Other Work-The
Medical-Vocational Rules as a Framework for ...