United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
David Scott Haese brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("SSA") denying Plaintiffs applications for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title
II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-434, and for supplemental security income
("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
id. §§ 1381-1383f. The parties have
consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate
Judge. Upon review of the administrative record (Doc. No. 7,
hereinafter "R. J"),  and the arguments and authorities
submitted by the parties, the Court reverses the
Commissioner's decision and remands the case for further
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
protectively filed his DIB application on June 17, 2010. R.
256-62, 273-80, 303. Following denial of his application
initially and on reconsideration, a hearing was held before
an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on December 16,
2011. R. 40-72, 108-13, 256-62, 303-05. Three days later,
Plaintiff filed his SSI application. R. 273-80. The ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on January 10, 2013, and
Plaintiff appealed to the SSA Appeals Council. R. 111-25,
199. The Appeals Council granted review and vacated the
denial of benefits, remanding the case to an ALJ for
resolution of multiple issues and to allow Plaintiff the
opportunity for a new hearing. R. 126-31.
remand, a hearing was conducted before a different ALJ. R.
73-107. Plaintiff appeared at the hearing, along with a
vocational expert. R. 77-106. On October 19, 2015, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision. R. 13-39.
relevant here, the Commissioner uses a five-step sequential
evaluation process to determine entitlement to disability
benefits. See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052
(10th Cir. 2009); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.
At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since February 13, 2012,
Plaintiffs amended disability-onset date. R. 17, 19, 76-77.
At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: mild degenerative joint disease
in his right hip; mild degenerative disc disease in his
lumbar spine; shortness of breath; sleep apnea; hypertension;
and obesity. R. 19-24. The ALJ also determined that
Plaintiffs mental impairment was nonsevere in nature. R.
24-27. At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs condition
did not meet or equal any of the presumptively disabling
impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1. R. 27.
next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
("RFC") based on all of his medically determinable
impairments ("MDIs"). R. 27-31. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff has the RFC to perform sedentary work with
[T]he claimant can frequently lift/carry/push/pull less than
10 pounds; occasionally lift/carry/push/pull 10 pounds; sit 6
hours in an 8 hour day; stand/walk 2 hours in an 8 hour day;
cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; cannot kneel,
crouch, or crawl; occasionally climb stairs and ramps;
occasionally balance and stoop; and uses oxygen with cannula
R. 27. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable
to perform any past relevant work. R. 32.
five, the ALJ considered whether there are jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff-in
view of his age, education, work experience, and RFC-could
perform. R. 32-33. Relying upon the VE's testimony
regarding the degree of erosion to the unskilled sedentary
occupational base caused by Plaintiffs additional
limitations, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could perform
sedentary occupations such as table worker,
telephone-quotation clerk, and call-out operator, and that
such occupations offer jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy. R. 32-33. Therefore, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had not been disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act during the relevant time
period. R. 33.
request for review by the Appeals Council was denied, and the
unfavorable determination of the ALJ stands as the
Commissioner's final decision. See R. 1-6; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether
correct legal standards were applied. Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009).
"Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion." Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
"A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is
a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it." Branum
v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court
"meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, "
including any evidence "that may undercut or detract
from the ALJ's findings, " "to determine if the
substantiality test has been met." Wall, 561
F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation marks omitted). While a
reviewing court considers whether the Commissioner followed
applicable rules of law in weighing particular types of
evidence in disability cases, the court does not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its own judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272
(10th Cir. 2008).
action, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred in evaluating
his subjective complaints of symptoms and that the ALJ
improperly neglected to order a second ...