United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. McCARTHY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
JERRY HOPKINS, 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 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, 14');">14');">14');">1420');">91 S.Ct. 14');">14');">14');">1420, 14');">14');">14');">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., 14');">14');">14');">1495');">961 F.2d 14');">14');">14');">1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 41 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 44 years old on the date of the denial decision. He has a
tenth grade education and past work experience includes a
welder, oil field pumper, and maintenance repairer. [R. 23,
194]. Plaintiff claims to have been unable to work since
October 7, 2013 due to ankylosing spondylitis, pain in
lower back, and pain in both hips. [R. 193].
determined that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: osteoarthritis, obesity, and fibromyalgia. [R.
16]. The ALJ determined that the Plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work except he can
specifically lift/carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently. Plaintiff can sit/stand and/or walk 6
hours in an 8 hour day. Plaintiff cannot climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolding, but can occasionally climb stairs and
ramps. He is limited to occasional stooping, crouching, and
crawling. Plaintiff is limited to frequently grasping,
handling, and fine motor manipulation. [R. 17]. The ALJ
determined that although Plaintiff cannot return to his past
relevant work, based on the testimony of the vocational
expert, there are a significant number of jobs in the
national economy that Plaintiff could perform. [R. 23-24].
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,
750-52 (10th Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in detail).
asserts the ALJ failed to: 1) consider ankylosing spondylitis
as a medically determinable impairment; 2) properly consider
the treating physician's opinion; and 3) properly
consider Plaintiff's statements. [Dkt. 14');">14');">14');">14, p. 4].
Spondylitis A recurring claim in Plaintiff's arguments
before the court is that the ALJ did not consider
Plaintiff's ankylosing spondylitis in reaching the
decision that Plaintiff is not disabled. Plaintiff's
argument is not supported by the record. Plaintiff's
ankylosing spondylitis is noted numerous times in the
ALJ's Decision and a fair reading of the Decision shows
that the ALJ did, in fact, consider Plaintiff's
argues that the ALJ erred at step two by failing to consider
Plaintiff's ankylosing spondylitis as a medically
determinable impairment. [Dkt. 14');">14');">14');">14, p. 5]. At step two of the
evaluative sequence, the ALJ must determine whether Plaintiff
suffers from severe impairments. That is all that is required
of the ALJ at step two. Oldham v. Astrue, 509 F.3d
1254, 1256 (10th Cir. 2007). Once an ALJ finds that a
claimant has at least one severe impairment, a failure to
designate others as “severe” at step two does not
constitute reversible error because, under the regulations,
the agency at later steps “consider[s] the combined
effect of all of [the claimant's] impairments without
regard to whether any such impairment, if considered
separately, would be of sufficient severity.” 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1521, 416.921; see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1525(e), 416.945(e); Mariaz v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 857 F.2d 240, 244 (6th
Cir. 1987), Brescia v. Astrue, 287 Fed.Appx. 616,
629 (10th Cir. 2008). The ALJ's decision demonstrates he
considered all of Plaintiff's alleged impairments. Thus,
the court finds no error in the ALJ's findings at step
also argues that ankylosing spondylitis was not considered at
step three. The Listings of Impairments (Listings) describe,
for each of the major body systems, impairments which are
considered severe enough to prevent a person from performing
any gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App.1. At
step three of the sequential analysis, the ALJ is required to
discuss the evidence in the context of the relevant listing
and the reasons for determining that Plaintiff does not meet
a listing. Clifton v. Chater,79 F.3d 1007, 1009
(10th Cir. 1996). It is well established that it is
Plaintiff's burden to show that his impairment is
equivalent to a listing. Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d
748, 750 (10th Cir. 1988). It is also well
established that all of the specified medical criteria must