United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
TISHA D. ROSS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tisha D. Ross (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 finding of this Court
that the Commissioner's decision should be and is
REVERSED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings
consistent with this Opinion and Order.
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 44 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed her high school education and took
advanced classes. Claimant has no past relevant work.
Claimant alleges an inability to work beginning February 15,
1999 due to limitations resulting from bipolar and psychotic
disorders, migraine headaches, and high blood pressure.
September 20, 2013, Claimant protectively filed for
disability insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C.
§ 401, et seq.) and for supplemental security
income pursuant to Title XVI (42 U.S.C. § 1381, et
seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
On June 22, 2015, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) David Engel conducted an administrative
hearing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On July 15, 2015, the ALJ entered
an unfavorable decision. The Appeals Council denied review on
October 5, 2016. As a result, the decision of the ALJ
represents the Commissioner's final decision for purposes
of further appeal. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, she did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a
full range of light work.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) failing to properly
evaluate the medical and non-medical source evidence; (2)
failing to perform a proper determination at steps four and
five; (3) failing to perform a proper credibility analysis;
and (4) failing to reopen Claimant's prior claim.