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Coleman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

January 18, 2018

LEEANN JOY COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Leeann Joy Coleman, seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration's denial of her applications for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). 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. 14], and both parties have briefed their positions.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision.

         I. Procedural Background

         On November 30, 2015, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to DIB or SSI. AR 12-24. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at 1-3. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision constitutes the Commissioner's final decision. See Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff timely commenced this action for judicial review.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required by agency regulations. See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009) (explaining process); see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Following this process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements for DIB through December 31, 2018, and has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 7, 2013, her alleged onset date. AR 14.

         At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following severe impairments: morbid obesity, asthma, diabetes mellitus, essential hypertension, cardiomyopathies status post congestive heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea, degenerative disc disease, pulmonary edema, major depressive disorder, and panic disorder without agoraphobia. Id. At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal any of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Id. at 15-18.

         The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC), concluding that:

[Plaintiff can] lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently. [Plaintiff] can sit for about 6 hours during an eight-hour workday and can stand and walk for at least 2 hours during an eight-hour workday. [Plaintiff] can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. [Plaintiff] cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. [Plaintiff] can occasionally reach overhead. [Plaintiff] is to avoid concentrated exposure to dusts, fumes, gases, odors, and poor ventilation. [Plaintiff] can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. [Plaintiff] can respond appropriately to supervisors, co-workers, and usual work situations, but have occasional contact with the general public.

Id. at 19.

         At step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work. Id. at 22. At step five, relying on a vocational expert's (VE) testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff can perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. Id. at 23-24. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. Id. at 24.

         III. Claims Presented for Judicial Review

         Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in: (1) rejecting the consultative examiner's opinion that Plaintiff's mental impairments would “likely interfere[] with her ability to adapt to a competitive work environment”; and (2) failing to consider the impact of Plaintiff's severe obesity in the RFC assessment. Pl.'s Br. at 7-15.

         IV. Stand ...


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