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 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.
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's application for benefits. Following an
administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 17-31). The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 4-6).
Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of
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 25,
2013, the alleged disability onset date. (TR. 19). At step
two, the ALJ determined Ms. Legan had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disk disease, schizoaffective
disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD), and panic disorder without agoraphobia. (TR.
19). 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. 20).
four, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Legan retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform a reduced range of light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b). Specifically, the claimant can lift, carry, push
or pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She
can stand and/or walk 6 hours in an 8 hour work day and sit 6
hours in an 8 hour work day. She can understand, remember and
carry out simple and some complex instructions, such as those
in semi-skilled work, can relate to co-workers and
supervisors on a superficial work-related basis, and can have
only occasional public interaction.
(TR. 21). With this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was
not capable of performing her past relevant work and
proceeded to step five. (TR. 29).
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. 53).
Given the limitations, the VE identified three jobs from the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). (TR. 53). The ALJ
adopted the testimony of the VE and concluded that Ms. Legan
was not disabled based on her ability to perform the
identified jobs. (TR. 30-31).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges a lack of substantial evidence to
support the mental and physical RFC.
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).
four, the ALJ stated that Ms. Legan had the mental RFC to
“understand, remember and carry out simple and some
complex instructions, such as those in semiskilled work,
[could] relate to co-workers and supervisors on a superficial
work-related basis, and [could] have only occasional public
interaction.” (TR. 21). The ALJ based this finding on
opinions from two state agency psychologists, Dr. Stephen
Scott and Dr. Mary Rolison, whom he accorded “great
weight.” (TR. 28). Drs. Scott and Rolison reviewed
Plaintiff's file at the initial and reconsideration
levels of her application for benefits on July 17, 2014 and
October 22, 2014, respectively. (TR. 61-62, 65-66, 74-76,
79-81). Together, the psychologists found that Ms. Legan
• understand, remember, and carry out simple and some
complex instructions with routine supervision,
• relate to supervisors and co-workers on a superficial