United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
KATRINA L. SCOTT, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Katrina L. Scott (the “Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
application for disability benefits under the Social Security
Act. Claimant appeals the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and asserts that the Commissioner
erred because the ALJ incorrectly determined that Claimant
was not disabled. For the reasons discussed below, it is the
determination of this Court that the Commissioner's
decision be REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.
Security Law and Standard of Review
under the Social Security Act is defined as the
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment. . .” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
A claimant is disabled under the Social Security Act
“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. . .” 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(2)(A). Social
Security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. See, 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is
limited to two inquiries: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997)(citation
omitted). The term “substantial evidence” has
been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to
require “more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229
(1938)). The court may not re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “substantiality of the
evidence must take into account whatever in the record fairly
detracts from its weight.” Universal Camera Corp.
v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also,
Casias, 933 F.2d at 800-01.
was 46 years old at the time of the ALJ's latest
decision. Claimant obtained a GED and attended two years of
college, obtaining an associates degree in criminal justice.
Claimant has worked in the past as a clerical
worker/bookkeeper. Claimant alleges an inability to work
beginning April 1, 2007 due to limitations resulting from
back problems, numbness in the legs, and bladder problems.
October 15, 2009, Claimant protectively filed for
supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI (42 U.S.C.
§ 1381, et seq.) of the Social Security Act.
Claimant's application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. After an administrative hearing, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued an
unfavorable decision on March 3, 2011. The Appeals Council
denied review but this Court reversed and remanded the
decision on appeal.
September 16, 2013, the ALJ conducted a second administrative
hearing. On January 14, 2014, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. The Appeals Council declined to review the decision
on April 14, 2014. By Order and Judgment entered November 17,
2015, this Court again reversed the ALJ's decision and
remanded the case for further proceedings.
supplemental hearing on remand, ALJ Doug Gabbard, II entered
a third unfavorable decision on September 1, 2016. Claimant
did not file written exceptions with the Appeals Council so
that body did not assume jurisdiction over the case. As a
result, the decision of the ALJ represents the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of further
appeal. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.984, 416.1484.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step four of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, she retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform her past relevant work.