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.

Swift v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

February 28, 2018

JOSEPH SWIFT, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER TO GRANT PLAINTIFF'S APPEAL AND TO REVERSE AND REMAND DECISION OF COMMISSIONER

          Gerald B. Cohn, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for decision. Joseph Swift, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's decision finding of not disabled. As set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's appeal and REVERSES and REMANDS the Commissioner's decision in this case.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To receive disability or supplemental security benefits under the Social Security Act (“Act”), a claimant bears the burden to demonstrate an “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); accord 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A).

         The Act further provides that an individual:

shall be determined to be under a disability 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, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work.

42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B). Plaintiff must demonstrate the physical or mental impairment “by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(3), 1382c(a)(3)(D).

         Social Security regulations implement a five-step sequential process to evaluate a disability claim. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750 (10th Cir. 1988) (setting forth the five steps in detail). “If a determination can be made at any of the steps that a plaintiff is or is not disabled, evaluation under a subsequent step is not necessary.” Williams, 844 F.2d at 750. The claimant bears the burden of proof at steps one through four. See Wells v. Colvin, 727 F.3d 1061, 1064 at n.1. (10th Cir. 2013). If the claimant satisfies this burden, then the Commissioner must show at step five that jobs exist in the national economy that a person with the claimant's abilities, age, education, and work experience can perform. Id.

         In reviewing a decision of the Commissioner, the Court is limited to determining whether the Commissioner has applied the correct legal standards and whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. See e.g., 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (“court shall review only the question of conformity with such regulations and the validity of such regulations”); Grogan v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 1257, 1261 (10th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. See id. Substantial evidence “does not mean a large or considerable amount of evidence, but rather ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The Court's review is based on the record, and the Court will “meticulously examine the record as a whole, including anything that may undercut or detract from the [Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ's”)] findings in order to determine if the substantiality test has been met.” Id. The Court may neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. See Hackett v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1168, 1172 (10th Cir. 2005). Even if the Court might have reached a different conclusion, if supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's decision stands. See White v. Barnhart, 287 F.3d 903, 908 (10th Cir. 2002).

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), alleging he was unable to work due to mental impairments and back pain beginning August 15, 2011 (as amended). (Tr. 132-54, 169, 998, 1237). Plaintiff attended two hearings in connection with his claims, which were denied by an ALJ. (Tr. 54-98, 1081-1125 (March 2013 hearing), 922-77 (September 2016 hearing); Tr. 13-30, 999-1016 (April 2013 ALJ decision), 888-921 (December 2016 ALJ decision)). Plaintiff was 57 years old on the date of the December 2016 ALJ decision. (See Tr. 20). The Appeals Council did not assume jurisdiction over the case. 20 C.F.R. § 404.984. Plaintiff did not file exceptions after the second ALJ decision, which renders this decision the Acting Commissioner's final decision after remand and ripe for judicial review. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.987(d); 416.1487(d) (2016).

         III. ISSUES AND ANALYSIS

         On appeal, Plaintiff alleges three errors: (1) the ALJ failed to properly develop the record; (2) the ALJ failed to properly consider the medical source opinions; and (3) the ALJ failed to properly consider Plaintiff's credibility. (Pl. Br. at 7, Doc. 17).

         A. ALJ's Evaluation of the Medical Evidence

         1. Opinions in the Record

         Plaintiff contends the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the medical opinions in the record, specifically from Dr. Bauer, Dr. Matosich, and Dr. Woodcock. (Pl. Br. at 10). In the decision, the ALJ reviewed ...


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.