United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lori Anne Coleman, seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Administration's denial of her application for
disability insurance benefits (DIB). The parties have
consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this matter by
a United States Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative
Record (AR) [Doc. No. 12], and both parties have briefed
their positions. For the reasons stated below, the Court
reverses the Commissioner's decision and remands the
matter for further proceedings.
17, 2016, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff is not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to DIB. AR 11-19. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at
1-5. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision constitutes the
Commissioner's final decision. See Krauser v.
Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff
timely commenced this action for judicial review.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the multi-step sequential evaluation process
required by agency regulations. See Wall v. Astrue,
561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009) (explaining process);
see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Following this
process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff meets the
insured status requirements for DIB through December 31, 2018
and has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
November 2, 2013, her alleged onset date. AR 13.
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff suffers from severe
degenerative disease, but that, at step three, her impairment
does not meet or medically equal any of the impairments
listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Id.
at 13, 16.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC), concluding that she can perform sedentary work with
exertional limitations. Id. at 16. Finally, at step
four, relying on a vocational expert's (VE) testimony,
the ALJ found Plaintiff can perform her past relevant work.
Id. at 19. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
presents two claims for review. First, Plaintiff alleges the
ALJ erred in rejecting the consultative examiner's
opinion that she can only sit for three hours total in an
eight-hour workday. See Pl.'s Br. at 12-17.
Second, Plaintiff claims the ALJ also erred in rejecting the
medical expert's opinion that her medications limit her
ability to “function coherently or drive
safely.” Id. at 17-20 (citing AR 39). Because
the Court finds reversal necessary on Plaintiff's second
argument, it does not address her first.
Standard of Review
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009); see
also Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir.
2008) (holding that the court only reviews an ALJ's
decision “to determine whether the factual findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record and whether
the correct legal standards were applied” and in that
review, “we neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute
our judgment for that of the agency” (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted)).
Dr. Henry S. Urbank, Jr., M.D.,  reviewed Plaintiff's
medical file and offered his expert testimony, at the
SSA's request. AR 33-41. Dr. Urbank expressed two
opinions. First, he stated that he did not believe that
Plaintiff's severe impairment meets or equals Listing
1.04A. Id. at 38. Second, he opined that Plaintiff
“takes way too much medicine” and noted that he