United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
BILLY R. WILSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Billy R. Wilson (“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.
Claimant was 53 years old at the time of the ALJ's
decision. Claimant obtained his GED. Claimant has worked in
the past as a painter and dry wall installer. Claimant
alleges an inability to work beginning August 30, 2010 due to
limitations caused by COPD, degenerative joint disease of the
right ankle and hand, and neck and back pain.
February 1, 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 January 27, 2015 and August 18, 2015, Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) John Belcher conducted hearings by
video with Claimant appearing in Muskogee, Oklahoma and the
ALJ presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. By decision dated
September 4, 2015, the ALJ found that Claimant was not
disabled during the relevant period and denied Claimant's
requests for benefits. On November 30, 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 his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He 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 light work with limitations.
Alleged for Review
Claimant asserts the ALJ committed error in failing to
properly evaluate whether Claimant met or equaled a listing.