Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kromer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

May 25, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         Plaintiff seeks judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the final decision of Defendant Commissioner denying his applications for disability insurance and supplemental security income benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. Defendant has answered the Complaint and filed the administrative record (hereinafter “AR___”), and the parties have briefed the issues. The matter has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the following reasons, it is recommended that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed.

         I. Administrative History and Agency Decision

         In his applications, Plaintiff alleged that he was disabled beginning on October 29, 2012. (AR 17, 275, 279, 332, 376, 378). Plaintiff alleged that he was disabled due to asthma, degenerative disc disease of the back, sciatica, anxiety, panic attacks, major depression, bipolar disorder, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and attention deficit disorder. (AR 335). Plaintiff has a 12th grade education and previously worked as a supply room clerk, inventory control clerk, and a laborer. (AR 26, 70, 343-350). Plaintiff's medical record reveals that he has received treatment for musculoskeletal impairments and underwent surgery for an ankle injury. (AR 430-459, 478-479, 488-537, 560-563).

         At a consultative examination in June 2016, Plaintiff stated that he has never received counseling services or inpatient treatment for his mental health impairments. (AR 578). However, Plaintiff was involuntarily hospitalized in January 2014 after threatening his doctor. (AR 23, 472, 474, 482). Plaintiff also testified during the hearing that he had been hospitalized on four or five occasions “years ago” due to mental health problems. (AR 48-49).

         Plaintiff appeared at an administrative hearing conducted on April 26, 2016 before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Jodi B. Levine.[1] (AR 34-76). At this hearing, Plaintiff testified concerning his usual daily activities, symptoms, functional abilities, medications, and medical treatment. A vocational expert (“VE”) also testified. On August 25, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's applications for benefits. (AR 28).

         The ALJ followed the five-step sequential evaluation process, required by agency regulations, to determine whether Plaintiff had been disabled at any time during the relevant period. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005) (explaining process); see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520; 416.920. At step one, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful employment since his alleged onset date. (AR 19). At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the severe impairments of degenerative joint and disc disease, asthma, and depression. (AR 20).

         At step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1. (AR 20-21).

         At the next step, the ALJ considered the medical and nonmedical evidence in the record and determined Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at the light exertional level; however, the ALJ found Plaintiff could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; could stand and/or walk up to one hour continuously or sit up to one hour continuously with the change of position occurring at the workstation without the need for a break; could understand, remember and carry out simple and detailed instructions with only occasional interaction with co-workers and supervisors and no interaction with the general public. (AR 22).

         At step four of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ relied on the hearing testimony of the VE, who, in turn, relied on the description of Plaintiff's past relevant work contained in the U.S. Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”). Taking into account Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC for work, the ALJ found at step four that Plaintiff was not capable of performing his past relevant work as a laborer, inventory control clerk, and a supply room clerk. (AR 26).

         At step five, however, the ALJ relied on the testimony from the VE and found Plaintiff could perform other light, unskilled jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy including small parts assembler, hand packer, and mail sorter. (AR 26-27).

         The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request to review the ALJ's decision on July 7, 2017. (AR 1-6). Therefore, the ALJ's decision constitutes the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; 416.1481, Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009).

         II. Plaintiff's Arguments

         Plaintiff raises several claims in support of reversing the Commissioner's decision. Pl.'s Br. (Doc. No. 19) at 2-12. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ (1) improperly evaluated the opinion of consultative examiner Taimur Paracha, MD, and (2) improperly analyzed the evidence concerning Plaintiff's mental impairments. Id.

         III. General Legal Standards Guiding Judicial Review

         The Court must determine whether the Commissioner's decision is 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); Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758, 760 (10th Cir. 2003). “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. It requires more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Lax v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007). The ‚Äúdetermination of whether the ALJ's ruling is supported by substantial evidence must be based upon the record taken as a whole. Consequently, [the Court must] ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.