United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
RICKY M. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Deputy Commissioner or Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
H. McCARTHY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ricky M. Johnson, seeks judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
disability benefits. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to proceed
before a United States Magistrate Judge.
role of the court in reviewing the decision of the
Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a
determination of whether the decision is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the decision contains a
sufficient basis to determine that the Commissioner has
applied the correct legal standards. See Briggs ex rel.
Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir.
2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir.
1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28
L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court may neither
reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 993 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even
if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 55 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 57 on the date of the denial decision. Plaintiff has a
high school education and his past work experience includes
contractor, homebuilder, newspaper carrier, and oiler. [R.
30, 53]. Plaintiff claims to have become disabled as of
January 27, 2014 due to emphysema, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, bone spurs in knees, weak heart,
arthritis, shortness of breath, hypertension, thyroid, sleep
apnea, and dead nerves in right knee. [R. 227].
found that Plaintiff has severe impairments relating to
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension,
obesity, and a history of knee pain. [R. 24]. The ALJ found
hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, and history of right wrist pain
non-severe impairments. [R. 24]. The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform
less than the full range of medium work. Specifically,
Plaintiff can occasionally lift and/or carry 50 pounds,
frequently lift and/or carry 25 pounds, stand and/or walk at
least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit at least 6 hours
in an 8-hour workday. Plaintiff should avoid concentrated
exposure to things such as fumes, odors, dust, and gases. [R.
26]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform
his past relevant work as a contractor, homebuilder,
newspaper carrier, and oiler. [R. 30]. Further, based on the
testimony of the vocational expert, the ALJ determined that
there are a significant number of jobs in the national
economy that Plaintiff could perform. [R. 31]. Accordingly,
the ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled. The case was thus
decided at step five of the five-step evaluative sequence for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. See Williams
v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 75052 (10th Cir. 1988)
(discussing five steps in detail).
asserts that the ALJ: 1) failed to properly consider
Plaintiff's obesity; 2) failed to properly consider the
treating physician's opinion; 3) failed to properly
consider Plaintiff's allegations; and 4) erroneously
found that a significant number of jobs exist that the
Plaintiff can perform as this finding is not supported by
substantial evidence. [Dkt. 18');">18');">18');">18, p. 3].
contends that the RFC does not include the limitations on
Plaintiff's ability to stand and walk which the ALJ found
resulted from Plaintiff's obesity. Plaintiff bases this
contention on the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff's
obesity “somewhat reduce[d]” Plaintiff's
ability to stand and walk while the RFC included the ability
to stand and walk at least 6 hours in an 8 hour workday.
Since this is the same number of hours standing and walking
as heavy work, Plaintiff argues the reduction to medium work
was no reduction at all.
court finds that the ALJ clearly considered Plaintiff's
obesity and its effect on Plaintiff's ability to stand
and walk as the ALJ specifically said that Plaintiff's
somewhat reduced ability was accounted for in the RFC.
However, the ALJ did not explain exactly how Plaintiff's
ability was somewhat reduced. Plaintiff assumes it was a
finding that the number of hours Plaintiff could stand and
walk was reduced. That is not the only reasonable reading of
the ALJ's decision. It could be that Plaintiff's
ability to stand and walk was reduced in the sense that he
could not stand or walk for 6 hours in an 8 hour workday if
he was required to lift and carry the weight required for
heavy work, but could do so with the weight required for
medium work. The court finds that Plaintiff's assumption
that the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff's ability to
stand and walk was ...