United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kevin Russell, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's final decision finding he was not
disabled under the Social Security Act. 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 respective positions. For the reasons stated below, the
Court reverses the Commissioner's decision and remands
the matter for further proceedings.
February 6, 2013, Plaintiff protectively filed an application
for disability insurance benefits (DIB). See AR 15.
The Social Security Administration denied the application
initially and on reconsideration. AR 120, 148. Following a
hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision dated April 1, 2016. AR 12-34. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR
7-11. Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision
of the Commissioner. Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d
1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff seeks judicial review
of this final agency decision.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the sequential evaluation process required by agency
regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d
729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005) (explaining five-step sequential
evaluation process); see also 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. The ALJ first determined Plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since July 15, 2013, the
amended alleged onset date. AR 17.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffered from the severe
impairments of diabetes, chronic neck and back pain, major
depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and morbid obesity.
AR 17-18. At step three, the ALJ found
Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal
any of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. AR 18-20.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
[Plaintiff] can occasionally stoop, crouch, and kneel. He is
able to understand, remember and carry out simple
instructions, but not detailed instructions.
20-26. The ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. AR 26. Relying on the testimony of a
vocational expert, the ALJ found there were other jobs that
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform-production solderer, mail clerk, and
storage rental clerk. AR 27-28. The ALJ concluded, therefore,
that Plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of the Social
Security Act. AR 28.
Issues Presented for Judicial Review
contends the ALJ did not appropriately weigh the opinion
evidence or consider probative evidence. Further, Plaintiff
argues the ALJ erred in her credibility analysis. The Court
finds the ALJ erred by failing to consider probative evidence
and not addressing the opinion of a medical source. The Court
does not reach the merits of Plaintiff's credibility
Standard of Review
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See 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) (quotation 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). The court “meticulously
examine[s] the record as a whole, including anything that may
undercut or detract from the ALJ's findings in order to
determine if the substantiality test has been met.”
Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009)
(citations omitted). While the court considers whether the
ALJ followed the ...