United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
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 benefits 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 Commissioner's decision is
REVERSED AND REMANDED for further
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's applications for benefits. (TR.
116-119, 120-123, 127-129, 130-132). Following an
administrative hearing, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Sylke
Merchan issued an unfavorable decision on February 3, 2016.
(TR. 8-19). The Appeals Council (AC) granted Plaintiff's
request for review, and issued an unfavorable
decision. (TR. 1-7). Thus, the decision of the AC
became the final decision of the Commissioner. See
20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
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 AC determined that Plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date
of February 1, 2014. (TR. 5). At step two, the AC determined
that Ms. Moore had the following severe impairments: diabetes
mellitus; hypertension; peripheral neuropathy; retinopathy;
obesity; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
fibromyalgia. (TR. 5). At step three, the AC 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. 5). At step
four, the AC concluded that Ms. Moore retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b). She specifically, she can perform frequent
balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling; and
climbing of stairs and ramps; and no climbing of ladders,
ropes, and scaffold. She also can perform frequent near and
far acuity, field of vision, and depth perception and no
production coming from left (i.e. assembly line). She must
avoid concentrated exposure to extreme temperatures,
humidity, and environmental and respiratory irritants; and
she must avoid even moderate exposure to hazards.
(TR. 5). The AC relied on vocational expert
(“VE”) testimony to find that, based on this RFC,
Plaintiff was capable of performing her past relevant work as
a short order cook. (TR. 5, 18, 69-70). The AC adopted the
testimony of the VE and concluded that Plaintiff was not
disabled. (TR. 6, 18-19).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges that (1) in assigning weight to the
opinions of the State agency physicians, the ALJ improperly
evaluated their assessments of Plaintiff's visual and
environmental limitations; (2) the ALJ's assessment of
Plaintiff's credibility was “conclusory” and
lacking in “actual and specific evidence”; and
(3) the ALJ failed to “specifically and properly”
analyze the effects of Plaintiff's obesity. (ECF No.
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. ...