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 disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income 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 Court REVERSES the
Commissioner's decision and REMANDS for
further administrative findings.
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's applications for benefits. Following
an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 15-27). The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-3).
Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of
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. §§
404.1520 & 416.920. At step one, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since February 25, 2014, her alleged onset date. (TR. 16). At
step two, the ALJ determined Ms. Hillier had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
spine; hypertension; plantar fasciitis/foot pain; and
obesity. (TR. 16). 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. 17).
four, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Hillier retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b). The claimant can lift/carry twenty-pounds
occasionally, ten pounds frequently; she can push and pull
consistent with lifting and carrying; stand/walk five-hours
in an eight-hour workday, and sit six-hours in an eight-hour
workday. She requires the need to change positions, but does
not have to leave the workstation. She can occasionally climb
stairs and ramps but should avoid climbing ladders, ropes,
and scaffolds. She can occasionally balance, bend/stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can have occasional exposure to
extreme cold temperatures under 32 degrees Fahrenheit and
vibrations. She can frequently drive, and avoid all exposure
to hazardous or fast machinery or unprotected heights.
(TR. 17). At the hearing, the ALJ presented these limitations
to a vocational expert (VE) to determine whether Plaintiff
could perform her past relevant work. (TR. 41-42). Given the
limitations, the VE testified that Plaintiff could perform
her perform her past relevant work as a customer service
representative and a mortgage clerk. (TR. 42). The ALJ
adopted the testimony of the VE and concluded that Ms.
Hillier was not disabled based on her ability to perform her
past relevant work. (TR. 20-21).
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. Colvin, 805 F.3d 1199, 1201
(10th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted).