United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
TERESA L. BOTTOM, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Teresa L. Bottom (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 AFFIRMED.
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 48 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed her high school education. Claimant has
worked in the past as a cashier, machine operator, and
production worker. Claimant alleges an inability to work
beginning March 14, 2011 due to limitations resulting from
low back pain and hearing loss.
February 20, 2014, Claimant protectively filed for disability
insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401,
et seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On
September 21, 2015, an administrative hearing was conducted
by Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Christopher
Hunt by video with Claimant appearing in Poteau, Oklahoma and
the ALJ presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The ALJ entered a
partially favorable decision on October 19, 2015. The Appeals
Council denied review of the decision on October 26, 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 retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work after October
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) reaching an improper
RFC; and (2) failing to meet the burden at step five to
identify other jobs that Claimant could perform.