United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. PURCELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of
the final decision of Defendant Commissioner denying her
applications for disability insurance and supplemental
security income benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423,
1382. Defendant has answered the Complaint and filed the
administrative record (hereinafter AR ___), and the parties
have briefed the issues. The matter has been referred to the
undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings
consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the
following reasons, it is recommended that the
Commissioner's decision be affirmed.
Administrative History and Agency Decision
applications, Plaintiff alleged that she was disabled
beginning on October 1, 2013. (AR 21, 69, 274, 325).
Plaintiff alleged that she was disabled due to a range of
musculoskeletal impairments, pain associated with those
conditions, depression, and anxiety. (AR 335). Plaintiff has
an 11th grade education and previously worked as a
rehabilitation clerk and a front desk receptionist. (AR 34,
95-96, 336). Plaintiff's medical record reflects that she
has been treated for lumbar degenerative disc disease and
other musculoskeletal impairments, depression, and anxiety.
Notably, in February 2014, Plaintiff underwent a laminectomy
and coccygectomy to address her musculoskeletal complaints.
appeared at an administrative hearing conducted on July 22,
2015, before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Angelita Hamilton. (AR 64-106). At this hearing, Plaintiff
testified concerning her usual daily activities, symptoms,
functional abilities, medications, and medical treatment. A
vocational expert (“VE”) also testified.
Following this hearing, Plaintiff requested a supplemental
hearing to consider the impact of newly submitted medical
records. (AR 398). Judge Hamilton convened a supplemental
hearing on February 5, 2016, at which Plaintiff and a VE
again testified. (AR 42-63).
issued a decision on April 15, 2016, finding that Plaintiff
had the severe impairments of depression/bipolar disorder,
anxiety disorder with PTSD symptoms and seizure-like events,
degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy, arthritis, and
status post-coccygectomy. (AR 23).
the agency's well-established sequential evaluation
process for disability applicants, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one
of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P,
appendix 1. (AR 24-25).
next step, the ALJ considered the medical and nonmedical
evidence in the record and determined that Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
work at the sedentary exertional level with the following
limitations: she could perform simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks that do not require production rate assembly
line pace and involve no more than occasional interaction
with co-workers, supervisors, and the public. Further, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff “must also be allowed to sit
or stand alternatively at will up to 1X per hour for five
minutes at a time.” (AR 26).
on the hearing testimony of the vocational experts and on the
description of Plaintiff's past relevant work contained
in the U.S. Department of Labor's Dictionary of
Occupational Titles, and considering Plaintiff's
age, education, work experience, and RFC for work, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff was not capable of performing her past
relevant work as a rehabilitation clerk and a front desk
receptionist. (AR 34, 55-58, 96-99).
five, however, the ALJ relied on the testimony from the VE
and found Plaintiff was capable of performing other jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy
including document preparer, election clerk, and surveillance
systems monitor. (AR 34-35, 98-99).
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of
this decision. (AR 1-6). Therefore, the ALJ's decision
reflects the final decision of the Commissioner. See
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481; Wall v.
Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009).
General Legal Standards Guiding Judicial Review
Court must determine whether the Commissioner's decision
is supported by substantial evidence in the record and
whether the correct legal standards were applied. Wilson
v. Astrue, 602 F.3d 1136, 1140 (10th Cir.
2010); Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758, 760
(10th Cir. 2003). “Substantial evidence is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. It requires more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Lax v.
Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007).
The “determination of whether the ALJ's ruling is
supported by substantial evidence must be based upon the
record taken as a whole. Consequently, [the Court must]
remain mindful that evidence is not substantial if it is
overwhelmed by other evidence in the record.”
Wall, 561 F.3d at 1052 (citations, internal
quotation marks, and brackets omitted).
Social Security Act authorizes payment of benefits to an
individual with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 401 et
seq. A disability is 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);
see 20 C.F.R. § 416.909 (duration requirement).
Both the ...