United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
BREANNA L. HOGLUND, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER OPINION AND ORDER TO GRANT
B. Cohn United States Magistrate Judge.
October 8, 2013, Breanna L. Hoglund (“Plaintiff”)
filed as a claimant for disability benefits under Title XVI
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433,
1382-1383 (“Act”), with a claimed a disability
onset date of January 1, 2009. (Administrative Transcript
(“Tr.”), 17, 127). On November 17, 2014, the ALJ
held a hearing where Plaintiff proceeded without
representation and a vocational expert testified. (Tr.
30-58). On January 16, 2015, the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) found Plaintiff was not disabled within
the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 14-29). Plaintiff sought review
of the unfavorable decision, which the Appeals Council denied
on May 18, 2016, thereby affirming the decision of the ALJ as
the “final decision” of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (“SSA”). (Tr.
19, 2016, Plaintiff filed the above-captioned action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to appeal a decision of Defendant
denying social security benefits. (Doc. 1). On December 8,
2016, Defendant filed an administrative transcript of
proceedings. (Doc. 13). On May 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
brief in support of the appeal. (Doc. 21 (“Pl.
Br.”)). On July 31, 2017, Defendant filed a brief in
response. (Doc. 23 (“Def. Br.”)). On August 15,
2017, Plaintiff filed a reply brief. (Doc. 25
was born in February 1991 and thus was classified by the
regulations as a younger person through the date of the ALJ
decision. (Tr. 25); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c).
Plaintiff's appeal is limited to the determination that
she was not disabled due to her learning impairment. (Pl. Br.
at 2). Plaintiff completed the twelfth grade and attended
special education classes. (Tr. 148). Plaintiff had a
driver's permit but did not pursue a license due to fear
of driving and later was approved for a transportation
service to take her to work. (Tr. 42-43, 47-48). Plaintiff
earned $5095 in 2012. (Tr. 136-40). While working as a
stocker for K-mart, Plaintiff earned $927 in fourth quarter
of 2013 and $2347 in the first quarter of 2014. (Tr. 138-39).
Plaintiff's part-time work met the description for
stocker under the Dictionary of Occupation Titles (DICOT)
922.687-058, which was performed at the medium level of
exertion and was an unskilled (SVP 2). (Tr. 55-56). The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's part-time job did not qualify
as substantial gainful activity. (Tr. 19); see also
20 C.F.R. § 404.1574 (effective from December 18, 2006
to November 15, 2016)); Bailey v. Berryhill, 250
F.Supp.3d 782, 788 (D. Colo. 2017). In 2013, the minimum wage
threshold was an average of $1040 per month and in 2014 the
minimum wage threshold amount was $1070 per month.
See 20 C.F.R. §§
Legal Standards and Review of ALJ Decision
receive disability or supplemental security benefits under
the Act, a claimant bears the burden to demonstrate 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). The Act further provides that an individual:
shall be determined to be under a disability 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, regardless of
whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B).
Plaintiff must demonstrate the physical or mental impairment
“by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
Security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920; Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748,
750 (10th Cir. 1988) (setting forth the five steps in
detail). “If a determination can be made at any of the
steps that a plaintiff is or is not disabled, evaluation
under a subsequent step is not necessary.”
Williams, 844 F.2d at 750. The claimant bears the
burden of proof at steps one through four. See Wells v.
Colvin, 727 F.3d 1061, 1064 at n.1. (10th Cir. 2013). If
the claimant satisfies this burden, then the Commissioner
must show at step five that jobs exist in the national
economy that a person with the claimant's abilities, age,
education, and work experience can perform. Id.
reviewing a decision of the Commissioner, the Court is
limited to determining whether the Commissioner has applied
the correct legal standards and whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence. See e.g., 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) (“court shall review only the
question of conformity with such regulations and the validity
of such regulations”); Grogan v. Barnhart, 399
F.3d 1257, 1261 (10th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence
“does not mean a large or considerable amount of
evidence, but rather ‘such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Pierce v. Underwood, 487
U.S. 552, 565 (1988) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The Court's review
is based on the record, and the Court will
“meticulously examine the record as a whole, including
anything that may undercut or detract from the
[Administrative Law Judge's] findings in order to
determine if the substantiality test has been met .”
Id. The Court may neither re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. See
Hackett v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1168, 1172 (10th Cir.
2005). Even if the Court might have reached a different
conclusion, if supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision stands. See White v.
Barnhart, 287 F.3d 903, 908 (10th Cir. 2002).
Step Five Finding
argues that the ALJ committed reversible error at step five
of the sequential evaluation. (Pl. Br. at ...