United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ROBERT F. BOLTON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration denying Plaintiff's
applications for supplemental security income under the
Social Security Act. The Commissioner has answered and filed
a transcript of the administrative record (hereinafter
TR.__). The parties have consented to jurisdiction over this
matter by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c).
parties have briefed their positions, and the matter is now
at issue. Based on the Court's review of the record and
the issues presented, the Court REVERSES and
REMANDS the Commissioner's decision for
further administrative development.
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's applications for benefits. Following
an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 15-30). The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-5).
Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of
the Commissioner. See Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d
1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011).
THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required
by agency regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart,
431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920.
At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since his application
date of October 5, 2012. (TR. 17). At step two, the ALJ
determined that Mr. Bolton had the following severe
impairments: schizophrenia; major depressive disorder;
anxiety disorder; personality disorder; pain disorder; and
obesity. (TR. 17). At step three, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal
any of the presumptively disabling impairments listed at 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR. 17). At step
four, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Bolton retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform less than a full range of light work as defined in
20 CFR 416.967(b) except he can occasionally lift and carry
20 pounds and frequently lift and carry 10 pounds; stand
and/or walk for 6 hours total of 8 hours; and sit for 6 hours
total of 8 hours. He can occasionally push/pull including the
operation of hand and foot controls; can occasionally climb
ramps and stairs; never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolding;
can frequently balance; can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch
and crawl. He has no manipulative, visual, communicative
limitations. He must not work around unprotected heights,
around dangerous moving equipment or machinery or on uneven
or unstable working surfaces. He can understand, remember,
comprehend and carry out simple work-related instructions and
tasks. He can work with supervisors and coworkers on a
superficial working basis. He cannot work with the general
public. He can adapt to routine changes in the working
(TR. 19). The ALJ relied on vocational expert (VE) testimony
to find that Plaintiff had no past relevant work. (TR. 28,
70-71). As a result, the ALJ made additional findings at step
five. There, the ALJ presented several limitations to a
vocational expert (VE) to determine whether there were other
jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform
with his RFC. (TR. 72-75). Given the limitations, the VE
identified three “light” and three
“sedentary” jobs from the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (DOT) that Plaintiff could perform. (TR.
72-75). The ALJ adopted the testimony of the VE and concluded
that Plaintiff was not disabled. (TR. 29).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ: (1) failed to explain his
rejection of certain limitations outlined in a consultative
physician's opinion and (2) erred in evaluating
Plaintiff's subjective statements.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews the Commissioner's final “decision to
determin[e] whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record and whether the correct
legal standards were applied.” Wilson v.
Astrue, 602 F.3d 1136, 1140 (10th Cir. 2010).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted).
the court considers whether the ALJ followed the applicable
rules of law in weighing particular types of evidence in
disability cases, the court will “neither reweigh the
evidence nor substitute [its] judgment for that of the
agency.” Vigil v. ...