United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Reginald Paul Hooks (“Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
applications for disability benefits under the Social
Security Act. Claimant appeals the decision of the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) and asserts that
the Commissioner erred because the ALJ incorrectly determined
that Claimant was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, it is the recommendation of the undersigned that the
Commissioner's decision be REVERSED and the case REMANDED
for further proceedings.
Security Law and Standard of Review
under the Social Security Act is defined as the
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment. . .” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
A claimant is disabled under the Social Security Act
“only if his physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable
to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy. . .” 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(2)(A). Social
Security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. See, 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is
limited to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997)(citation
omitted). The term “substantial evidence” has
been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to
require “more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229
(1938)). The court may not re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “substantiality of the
evidence must take into account whatever in the record fairly
detracts from its weight.” Universal Camera Corp.
v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also,
Casias, 933 F.2d at 800-01.
was 53 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed his high school education and two years of
college classes. Claimant has worked in the past as an
automobile salesman and alarm service sales agent. Claimant
alleges an inability to work beginning January 2, 2012 which
was later amended to April 4, 2008 due to limitations caused
by shoulder, neck, and back pain.
27, 2013, Claimant protectively filed for disability
insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401,
et seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On
April 2, 2015, a hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Sarah Cyrus in Paris, Texas. By
decision dated May 28, 2015, the ALJ found that Claimant was
not disabled during the relevant period and denied
Claimant's request for benefits. On August 2, 2016, the
Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision.
Thus, the decision of the ALJ represents the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of further
appeal. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made her decision at step four of the sequential evaluation.
She determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
his past relevant work.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) failing to properly
evaluate a physician's opinion regarding Claimant's
inability to handle with his right hand; and (2) failing to
perform a proper credibility determination.
of the ...