United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Julie Vantine (“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 44 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant obtained her GED. Claimant has worked in the past as
a cook and waitress. Claimant alleges an inability to work
beginning September 8, 2014 due to limitations caused by DVT,
PTSD, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, degenerative
disc disease, arthritis, MRSA, obesity, C-Diff, an inability
to walk, blood clot, back injury, bone infection, and foot
September 15, 2014, 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 April 18, 2016, a hearing was held before Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) Larry Shepherd by video with
Claimant appearing in Ardmore, Oklahoma and the ALJ presiding
from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. By decision dated June 29,
2016, the ALJ found that Claimant was not disabled during the
relevant period and denied Claimant's request for
benefits. On September 2, 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,
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, she did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
sedentary work with limitations.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) reaching an RFC which
found Claimant could perform a limited range of sedentary
work; (2) failing to properly weigh the opinion of
Claimant's treating physician; and (3) failing to include
mental limitations in the RFC.