Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Vance v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

February 9, 2018

BILLY DON VANCE, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          STEVEN P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The claimant Billy Don Vance, Jr. requests judicial review of a denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). He appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in determining he was not disabled. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner should be AFFIRMED.

         Social Security Law and Standard of Review

         Disability 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[.]” Id. § 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.[2]

         Section 405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the Commissioner's decision to two inquiries: whether the decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v. Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is “‘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); see also Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009 (10th Cir. 1996). The Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its discretion for the Commissioner's. See Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and “[t]he substantiality of 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's Background

         The claimant was born June 19, 1959, and was fifty-four years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 26, 145). He completed one year of college, and has worked as a respiratory therapist (Tr. 19, 169). The claimant alleges inability to work since December 31, 2007 due to severe depression, being a recovering alcoholic and addict, pain in most of his body, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, inability to cope with the public or have relationships, swelling in his hands and feet, severe headaches, inability to completely bend his right arm, and numbness in arms and legs daily (Tr. 168).

         Procedural History

         On June 13, 2012, the claimant applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and for supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. His applications were denied. ALJ Doug Gabbard, II, conducted an administrative hearing and determined in a written opinion dated February 14, 2014, that the claimant was disabled beginning January 19, 2014 (when the claimant was within six months of the age of 55), but that he was not disabled prior to January 19, 2014 (Tr. 10-21). The Appeals Council denied review, but this Court reversed in Case No. CIV-14-316-RAW-KEW and remanded for further proceedings (Tr. 393-404). On remand, ALJ Gabbard held a second administrative hearing and again determined in a written opinion dated August 2, 2016, that the claimant was not disabled from December 31, 2007 through January 18, 2014 (Tr. 299-312). The Appeals Council again denied review, so ALJ Gabbard's August 2016 opinion is the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.

         Decision of the Administrative Law Judge

         The ALJ made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation. He found that, from December 31, 2007 through January 18, 2014, the claimant had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform less than the full range of light work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 4165.967(b), i. e., he could lift/carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, and stand/walk and sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday, and he could occasionally reach, including overhead, with his right dominant arm. Additionally, the ALJ determined that the claimant was limited to unskilled work (which needs little or no judgment to do simple duties that can be learned on the job in a short period of time), where his supervision must be simple, direct, and concrete; interpersonal contact with supervisors and co-workers must be incidental to the work performed, e. g., assembly work; and he must have normal, regular work breaks, no fast-paced production line speeds, and no contact with the general public (Tr. 305). The ALJ thus concluded that although the claimant could not return to his past relevant work, he was nevertheless not disabled prior to January 19, 2014, because there was work he could perform, i. e., conveyor line bakery worker (Tr. 309-312).

         Review

         The claimant's sole contention of error is that the ALJ erred by improperly weighing the medical evidence, namely, the state agency psychologists' opinions. The undersigned Magistrate Judge finds this contention unpersuasive for the following reasons.

         The ALJ determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of remote history of acromioclavicular (AC) repair with AC osteoarthritis spurring, remote history of right knee repair with mildly narrowed medial and lateral joint spaces, obesity, affective disorder, anxiety disorder, and substance addiction disorder in remission (Tr. 302). The medical evidence relevant to this appeal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.