United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. Purcell, Judge
seeks judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of
the final decision of Defendant Commissioner denying his
application for disability insurance benefits under Title II
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i),
423. Defendant has answered the Complaint and filed the
administrative record (hereinafter AR), and the parties have
briefed the issues. The matter has been referred to the
undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings
consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the
following reasons, it is recommended that the
Commissioner's decision be affirmed.
Administrative History and Final Agency Decision
applied for Title II disability insurance benefits on
September 26, 2013. In his application, Plaintiff alleged
that he became disabled on June 1, 2013, due to asthma, brain
injury, chronic fatigue syndrome, hearing loss, bipolar
disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome
(“PTSD”), depression, right shoulder injury, and
deviated septum. AR 178, 181.
was 40 years old on the date of the ALJ's decision, had a
college degree, and had served in the military. AR 19, 247.
Plaintiff has a history of treatment at the Veteran's
Affairs (“VA”) Medical Center for issues
including adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressed
mood, anger issues, and PTSD. See AR 240-314,
323-328, 329-411. Plaintiff has a VA disability rating of
90%. AR 245.
appeared with counsel and testified at an administrative
hearing conducted on June 2, 2015, before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). AR 27-58. A vocational expert
(“VE”) also testified at the hearing. The ALJ
issued a decision in which the ALJ found that Plaintiff was
not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.
Following the agency's well-established sequential
evaluation procedure, the ALJ found at the first step that
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act through December 31, 2018. The ALJ further found
that Plaintiff had engaged in substantial gainful activity
during the period from June 2013 to July 2013, but there had
been a continuous 12-month period during which Plaintiff did
not engage in substantial gainful activity. The ALJ's
findings addressed the periods during which Plaintiff did not
work. At the second step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
severe impairments of PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic right
shoulder pain, use of binaural hearing aids, and migraines.
At the third step, the ALJ found that these impairments were
not per se disabling as Plaintiff did not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled
the requirements of a listed impairment.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at
the light exertional level in that he could lift and carry up
to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and
walk up to 30 minutes at a time, up to 4 hours in an 8-hour
workday; and sit at least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday.
also included additional limitations as follows:
He is limited to occasional climbing, balancing, stooping,
kneeling, crouching and crawling; and no more than occasional
overhead reaching with the right upper extremity. He is
limited to quiet or office level noise environment. He should
have no more than occasional interaction with coworkers and
supervisors; and no more than rare contact with the public.
on this RFC finding and Plaintiff's and the VE's
testimony regarding the requirements of Plaintiff's
previous work, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable
to perform any past relevant work.
the fifth and final step of the required sequential analysis,
and relying on the VE's testimony as to the ability of a
hypothetical individual with Plaintiff's work history,
age, education, and this RFC for work, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was capable of performing jobs that existed in the
national economy. These included work as a clerical worker,
data entry clerk, or bill sorter. Based on these findings,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined by the Social Security Act, from June
1, 2013, through the date of the decision.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
and therefore the ALJ's decision is the final decision of
the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981;
Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir.