United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
SAMMY D. PIERCE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sammy D. Pierce (“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 AFFIRMED.
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 47 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed his high school education. Claimant has
worked in the past as a self-employed chicken farmer.
Claimant alleges an inability to work beginning December 31,
2007 due to limitations caused by lumbosacral spine disorder
April 23, 2013, Claimant protectively filed for disability
insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401,
et seq.) and for supplemental security income
pursuant to Title XVI (42 U.S.C. § 1381, et
seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
On September 1, 2015, a hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) B. D.
Crutchfield by video with Claimant appearing in Poteau,
Oklahoma and the ALJ presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. By
decision dated September 9, 2015, the ALJ found that Claimant
was not disabled during the relevant period and denied
Claimant's requests for benefits. On January 2, 2017, 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 his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
She determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he did not meet or equal a listing and retained
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform sedentary work.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) failing to properly
evaluate Claimant's credibility; and (2) failing to
include all of Claimant's limitations in the RFC.