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Schapka v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

July 5, 2018

BRENT SCHAPKA, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHON T. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff 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 application for disability insurance 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).

         The 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 Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Initially and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits. Following an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 11-25). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-5). Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         II. THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         The ALJ 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. § 404.1520. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from April 7, 2014, the alleged amended disability onset date, through September 30, 2014, the date Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act (date last insured or DLI). (TR. 13). At step two, the ALJ determined that, through the DLI, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: affective mood disorder, bipolar, and depression. (TR. 13). At step three, the ALJ 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. 18).

         At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not capable of performing his past relevant work. (TR. 23). The ALJ further concluded that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform “a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations:” never climb ladders or scaffolds; occasionally balance;

never exposed to hazards such as hazardous machinery, unprotected heights or raw chemical solutions; . . . work must be limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; occasional interaction with co-workers, supervisors, and the public; free of production and rate pace.

(TR. 19).

         With this RFC, the ALJ made additional findings at step five. The ALJ consulted with a vocational expert (VE) to determine whether there were other jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. Given the limitations presented by the ALJ, the VE identified three jobs from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. (TR. 58-59). Relying upon the testimony of the VE, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled based on his ability to perform the identified jobs. (TR. 23-24).

         III. ISSUES PRESENTED

         On appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in (1) failing to consider properly consider the treating physician's opinion; (2) failing to properly consider Plaintiff's allegations; and (3) assessing an RFC not supported by substantial evidence. (ECF No. 14:1, 4-9).

         IV. ...


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