United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
STEVEN L. MCDANIEL, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Steven L. McDaniel (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 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. §§
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 63 years old at the time of the ALJ's latest
decision. Claimant completed thirteen years of education.
Claimant is a military veteran who has worked in the past as
payroll technician at a Veterans Administration hospital.
Claimant alleges an inability to work beginning October 23,
2009 due to limitations resulting from PTSD.
history of this case is extensive and somewhat tortured.
Claimant originally filed for disability insurance benefits
under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq.) of
the Social Security Act on January 20, 2009. Claimant's
application was denied and he did not appeal the decision.
October 26, 2009, Claimant filed a second Title II
application. This application was denied and Claimant did not
appeal the decision.
August 11, 2011, Claimant filed a third Title II application.
The application was denied. Claimant sought reconsideration
of the decision and the application was denied on
reconsideration. Claimant did not appeal the reconsidered
14, 2013, Claimant filed a fourth Title II application. On
December 20, 2013, the agency issued a decision finding
Claimant disabled beginning July 5, 2012, the day after the
period of time that was previously adjudicated in a prior
denial of an application filed by Claimant. Claimant
requested reconsideration wherein he disagreed with the
agency's determination of the date of disability onset.
The agency reconsidered the decision and affirmed the
disability began on June 5, 2012. Claimant requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
April 27, 2015, Claimant appeared with counsel before ALJ
David Engel in Tulsa, Oklahoma for an administrative hearing.
Claimant's counsel requested that the ALJ reopen
Claimant's prior Title II applications and modify the
onset date to October 26, 2009. On June 15, 2015, the ALJ
determined that Claimant was disabled beginning June 5, 2012.
He found no basis for reopening Claimant's prior Title II
applications. The Appeals Council denied review on September
6, 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 ...