United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
YALONDA C. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN O UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (Dkt. # 18)
of the magistrate judge recommending that the Court affirm
the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
plaintiff's claim for disability benefits. Plaintiff has
filed an objection (Dkt. # 19) to the Report and
Recommendation, and defendant has filed a response (Dkt. #
November 15, 2013, plaintiff applied for supplemental
security income, and on November 21, 2013, she applied for
disability benefits. Dkt. # 10, at 20. On January 29, 2014,
these claims were denied, and on April 18, 2014, the initial
denial was affirmed on reconsideration. Id. at 84.
On June 16, 2014, plaintiff filed a written request for a
hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
hearing was held before an ALJ on April 8, 2015, and
plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing.
Id. at 35. Counsel stated that plaintiff's
primary impairments were her “back and neck.”
Id. at 38. As to her back, plaintiff explained that
her “spinal cord is deteriorating, ” her back is
“swelling up, ” she has “bad back pain,
” and she cannot “bend down.” Id.
at 53. Regarding her neck, plaintiff specified that she has
“real bad headaches” (for which she takes extra
strength Excedrin) from a “pinched nerve” and has
issues “reaching up.” Id. at 59-60.
These were the only impairments discussed.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was fifty-one years old.
Id. at 41. She is single and has four children and
seven grandchildren, though she does not live with any of
them. Id. at 42. She lives in a second floor
apartment, which she climbs stairs to enter. Id. at
43. Plaintiff has a roommate, who helps her with various
household chores. Id. at 43. Plaintiff has never had a
driver's license, receives food stamps, lives in section
8 housing, attends church three days per week (where she
volunteers as a greeter at the door), smokes three cigarettes
a day (and used to smoke crack cocaine but has been clean for
five years), finished the ninth grade but did not obtain a
GED, and has two criminal convictions (one for possession
with intent to distribute and a second for unlawful forgery).
Id. at 45-52. The last job she held was as a
laminator (i.e. she rolled stop signs, name plates,
and other such material through a laminating machine).
Id. at 52.
the end of the hearing, the ALJ called a vocational expert
(VE) to testify, and the VE stated that plaintiff's past
relevant work included housekeeper, janitor, production
worker, and order puller. Id. at 73. The ALJ posed a
series of hypotheticals and there were jobs the hypothetical
claimant could perform, but the VE testified that a person
would not be able to keep these jobs if they were moving at
“three-quarter[s] . . . speed.” Id. at
entered a written decision denying plaintiff's claim for
disability benefits. Id. at 20-28. The ALJ found
that plaintiff had severe degenerative disc disease, but the
impairment did not meet or exceed an impairment listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id. at
The ALJ found that plaintiff had the following the residual
functional capacity (RFC):
[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform
less than the full range of “light” work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). Claimant could
lift/carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds
frequently; could sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour
workday with normal breaks; could stand/walk for up to six
hours in an eight-hour workday with normal breaks; could
push/pull up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently; and could occasionally reach overhead with either
left or right shoulders.
Id. at 24. The ALJ summarized plaintiff's
medical history, noting, inter alia, that she
presented to a hospital on August 29, 2013 for hypertension
and a thyroid problem, and that her blood pressure was
elevated, but that she had been out of blood pressure
medication for four weeks and out of thyroid medication for
three months. Id. at 25. The ALJ also stated that
the ALJ was “persuaded by the physical examination
findings of Dr. Leah Upton [D.O.] [the consultive examiner] .
. . finding ‘light' exertional limitations.”
Id. at 25. Additionally, the ALJ stated that two
state agency physicians affirmed these findings, and the ALJ
gave “these physician findings great weight.”
on claimant's hearing testimony and the medical evidence
of record, the ALJ found that “claimant's medically
determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to
cause the alleged symptoms; however, the claimant's
statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting
effects of these symptoms are not entirely credible . . .
.” Id. at 26. Accordingly, the ALJ found
further that although plaintiff was unable to perform her
past relevant work, considering her age, education, and work
experience, she could work as a routing clerk or assembler of
electrical accessories. Id. at 27. And, since there
were jobs in the national economy that plaintiff could
perform, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled.
consent of the parties, the Court may refer any pretrial
matter dispositive of a claim to a magistrate judge for a
report and recommendation. However, the parties may object to
the magistrate judge's recommendation within fourteen
days of service of the recommendation. Schrader v. Fred
A. Ray, M.D., P.C., 296 F.3d 968, 975 (10th Cir. 2002);
Vega v. Suthers, 195 F.3d 573, 579 (10th Cir. 1999).
The Court “shall make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 ...