United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ZOE L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Zoe L. Williams, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's final decision finding she was not
disabled under the Social Security Act. The parties have
consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this matter by
a United States Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative
Record (AR) [Doc. No. 13], and both parties have briefed
their respective positions. For the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
March 27, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed an application
for disability insurance benefits (DIB). See AR 18.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) denied the
application initially and on reconsideration. AR 108, 121.
Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued
an unfavorable decision dated October 15, 2015. AR 15-33. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR
1-6. Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision
of the Commissioner. Plaintiff seeks judicial review of this
final agency decision.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the sequential evaluation process required by agency
regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d
729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005) (explaining five-step sequential
evaluation process); see also 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. The ALJ first determined Plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since March 27, 2013, the
amended alleged onset date. AR 20.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffered from the severe
impairments of degenerative disc disease, lumbar spine;
osteoarthritis of the bilateral knees; obesity; major
depressive disorder; and posttraumatic stress disorder. AR
20. At step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff's impairments
do not meet or medically equal any of the impairments listed
at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. AR 20-22.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except she can
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she can frequently
crouch and occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance,
stoop, kneel, and crawl. Furthermore, she is limited to
simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a work environment
free of fast-paced production requirements and involving only
simple, work-related decisions; with few, if any, workplace
changes; and only occasional contact with supervisors and
coworkers and no more than incidental contact with the
22-26. The ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. AR 26. Relying on the testimony of a
vocational expert (VE), the ALJ found there were other jobs
that existed in significant numbers in the national economy
that Plaintiff could perform-patch worker, air purifier, and
slagger. AR 27. The ALJ concluded, therefore, that Plaintiff
was not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. AR
Issue Presented for Judicial Review
presents one issue for review. She contends the ALJ failed to
develop the record adequately by not ordering a consultative
mental examination. As illustrated below, the ALJ did not
commit reversible error.
Standard of Review
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted). A decision is not
based on substantial evidence if it is overwhelmed by other
evidence in the record or if there is a mere scintilla of
evidence supporting it. Branum v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d
1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004). The court “meticulously
examine[s] the record as a whole, including anything that may
undercut or detract from the ALJ's findings in order to
determine if the substantiality test has been met.”
Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009)
(citations omitted). While the court considers whether the
ALJ followed the ...