United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCCARTHY United States Magistrate Judge.
Maria Del Rosario Ruiz Munoz, seeks judicial review of a
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration denying Social Security 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 record as a whole contains
substantial evidence to support the decision and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. 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., 933 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 amended onset of disability date and
at the time of the ALJ's denial decision. She is a
college graduate and formerly worked as a business
owner/retail assistant manager, day care worker, and teacher
aide. She claims to have been unable to work since the
amended onset date of March 24, 2015, as a result of residual
effects of thyroid cancer, arthritis, obesity, endometriosis,
after effects of gallbladder and ovary surgery, and
determined that Plaintiff retains the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform light work except for no climbing
of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, no exposure to unprotected
heights, open flames, dangerous machinery or equipment or
other hazardous conditions. Plaintiff can understand,
remember, and carry out simple or intermediate level
instructions and perform simple and some tasks of
intermediate level difficulty under routine supervision such
that she is capable of performing simple or at most
semi-skilled work. She can relate to supervisors and
coworkers on a superficial work related basis. [R. 15].
found that with her RFC Plaintiff is capable of performing
her past relevant work as a Day Care Worker as it is
generally performed. In addition, based on the testimony of
an independent vocational expert, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff acquired the following work skills in her past
relevant work: ability to interview and assess clients and
their needs, provide appropriate referral source, or to refer
a client or customer to appropriate party, computer skills,
money handling skills, cashier, supervisory skills, and some
reporting skills. [R. 22]. The ALJ found that these skills
are transferable to other jobs that exists in significant
numbers in the economy. The case was thus decided at step
four of the five-step evaluative sequence for determining
whether a claimant is disabled, with an alternate step five
finding. See Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-52
(10th Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in detail).
asserts: that the ALJ's finding that she can perform her
past relevant work as a Day Care Worker is not supported by
substantial evidence; that the ALJ did not perform the proper
analysis of her past relevant work; and that the ALJ failed
to address all of the objections Plaintiff posed to the
vocational expert's testimony.
Relevant Work as a Day Care Worker
argues that her past relevant work was not as a Day Care
Worker, but as a Head Start Teacher where she performed
duties in excess of those required of a Day Care Worker. She
asserts that since her past work was wrongly identified, the
finding that she can return to that work is error. On the
Disability Report, Plaintiff described her past work from
November 2007 to January 2010 as “Day Care, ”
wherein she earned $13.60 per hour. [R. 231-238]. On the work
history report for the same dates and pay, Plaintiff labeled
her job as “teacher, ” [R. 251], but described
her job as follows: “I was working as a Head Strart
[sic] teacher in a Day Care Center.” [R. 255]. She
stated she taught and supervised children. The vocational
expert who testified at the hearing characterized
Plaintiff's past work as Day Care Worker. After the
hearing Plaintiff submitted an opinion by a private
vocational expert who expressed several bases of disagreement
with the ...