United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
KIMBERLEY B. BEASON, et al., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER of the Social Security Administration, et al., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Kimberley B. Beason requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby REVERSED and
the case REMANDED to the ALJ 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 h[er] physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that [s]he is not only
unable to do h[er] previous work but cannot, considering
h[er] age, education, and work experience, engage in any
other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the
national economy[.]” Id. § 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.
405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to two inquiries: whether the
decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997).
Substantial evidence is “‘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); see also Clifton v.
Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009 (10th Cir. 1996). The Court
may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its discretion for
the Commissioner's. See Casias v. Secretary of Health
& Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir.
1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and
“[t]he substantiality of 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
claimant was born on February 4, 1975, and was forty years
old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 299, 301).
She has a high school education, and has worked as a dipper,
folding machine operator, and carton packaging machine
operator (Tr. 30, 87). The claimant alleges that she has been
unable to work since an amended onset date of February 1,
2012, due to bipolar disorder, depression, high blood
pressure, posttraumatic stress disorder, anger control
problems, and headaches (Tr. 326, 375, 403).
17, 2013, the claimant applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and she applied for supplemental
security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85 on July 31, 2013
(Tr. 299-306). Her applications were denied. ALJ Christopher
Hunt conducted an administrative hearing and determined that
the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated
October 25, 2015 (Tr. 20-32). The Appeals Council denied
review, so the ALJ's opinion is the final decision of the
Commissioner for purposes of this appeal. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He found that the claimant had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with
occasional climbing ramps and stairs, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling, but never climbing ropes, ladders,
and scaffolds, or working around extreme heat like ovens or
furnaces (Tr. 24-25). The ALJ found that the claimant was
limited to simple, repetitive, and routine tasks with
occasional contact with co-workers, supervisors, and the
general public (Tr. 24-25). The ALJ then concluded that
although the claimant could not return to her past relevant
work, she was nevertheless not disabled because there was
work that she could perform in the national economy, e.
g., document preparer, addresser, and parimutuel ticket
checker (Tr. 41-43).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to: (i)
account for her marked limitation in her ability to
understand, remember, and carry out detailed instructions;
(ii) resolve a conflict between the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony and the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”); and (iii) make
sufficient findings as to whether work existed in significant
numbers. The Court agrees with the claimant's first and
second contentions, and the decision of the Commissioner must
therefore be reversed and the case remanded to the ALJ for
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of
posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, an
anxiety disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and
obesity, but that her hypertension, hypothyroidism, and
headaches were non-severe (Tr. 22). The relevant medical
records as to the claimant's mental impairments reveal
that her primary care physician, Dr. ...