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Thomas v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

January 30, 2018

EDWARD DONNELL THOMAS, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHON T. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. The Commissioner has answered and filed a transcript of the administrative record (hereinafter TR. ___). The parties have consented to jurisdiction over this matter by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         The parties have briefed their positions, and the matter is now at issue. Based on the Court's review of the record and the issues presented, the Court REVERSES AND REMANDS the Commissioner's decision.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Initially and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits. Following an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 22-29). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 8-15). Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         II. THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         The ALJ followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required by agency regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 1, 2012, the alleged disability onset date. (TR. 24). At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: shoulder impingement, degenerative disc disease, an affective disorder, and an anxiety disorder. (TR. 24). At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal any of the presumptively disabling impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR. 24).

         At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not capable of performing his past relevant work. (TR. 27). The ALJ further concluded that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work with the following additional limitations:

[Plaintiff] can occasionally stoop, lift, crouch, reach[] bilaterally overhead, and use . . . stairs and ramps. [Plaintiff] can never climb ladder[s], ropes, and scaffolds. [Plaintiff] can have no interaction with general public and only occasional interaction with supervisors and co-workers.

(TR. 25).

         With this RFC, the ALJ made additional findings at step five. The ALJ consulted with a vocational expert (VE) to determine whether there were other jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. Given the limitations presented by the ALJ, the VE identified three jobs from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. (TR. 47-48). Relying upon the testimony of the VE, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled based on his ability to perform the identified jobs. (TR. 28-29).

         III. ISSUES PRESENTED

         On appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in (1) failing to consider medical records dated before the date of onset and after the date last insured; and (2) failing to include sufficient limitations in the RFC. (ECF No. 19:19, 22).

         IV. ...


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