United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kammie Raylene Hilliard, seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Administration's denial of her applications for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security
income (SSI). The parties have consented to the exercise of
jurisdiction over this matter by a United States Magistrate
Judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The Commissioner
has filed the Administrative Record (AR) [Doc. No. 16], and
both parties have briefed their positions. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court reverses the Commissioner's
decision and remands the matter for further proceedings.
February 23, 2016, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued
an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled
and, therefore, not entitled to DIB or SSI. AR 20-33. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
Id. at 1-4. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision
constitutes the Commissioner's final decision. See
Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff timely commenced this action for judicial review.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required
by agency regulations. See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d
1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009) (explaining process); see
also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Following
this process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Social Security Act
through March 31, 2007, and had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since February 20, 2003, her alleged onset
date. AR 22.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following
severe impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease,
degenerative joint disease of the right hip, high blood
pressure, generalized anxiety disorder, organic brain
disorder with associated migraines, mild cognitive disorder,
and an affective disorder. Id. at 22-23. At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments do not
meet or medically equal any of the impairments listed at 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Id. at 23-24.
The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional
capacity (RFC), concluding that:
[Plaintiff can] perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except [Plaintiff] is able to
carry out simple instructions but not detailed instructions;
needs to be employed at a low stress job that only
occasionally requires decision making or has changes in the
work setting; and can only occasionally have interaction with
the public, coworkers, or supervisors.
Id. at 24.
four, relying on a vocational expert's (VE) testimony,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff is able to perform her past
relevant work as a spot welder and mail sorter. Id.
at 31. The ALJ proceeded to make an alternative step-five
finding and, relying on the VE's testimony, found
Plaintiff can perform other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy. Id. at 31-32.
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff can perform the
requirements of representative jobs such as housekeeper, hand
packager, and car attendant. Id. at 32. Therefore,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes
of the Social Security Act. Id. at 33.
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
alleges the ALJ erred in: (1) failing to provide Plaintiff
with a full and fair hearing; (2) failing to develop an
adequate record; (3) determining that Plaintiff was not fully
credible; and (4) making step-four and step-five findings
that were not supported by substantial evidence. Pl.'s
Br. [Doc. No. 20] at 11-33. The Court agrees that the
ALJ's findings at step four and step five were not
supported by substantial evidence, thus remand is warranted.
Because Plaintiff's other assertions of error may be
affected by the ALJ's treatment of the case on remand,
the Court does not reach these arguments.