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
application for 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 AFFIRMS the
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's application for benefits. Following
two administrative hearings, an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 26-41). The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
(TR. 1-3). Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final
decision of the Commissioner.
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 ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 6, 2014,
her alleged onset date. (TR. 29). At step two, the ALJ
determined Ms. Gee had the following severe impairments:
obesity; major depressive disorder, recurrent, severe, with
psychotic features; and intermittent explosive disorder. (TR.
29). 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. 32).
four, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Gee retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform “light work, ” as defined in 20 CFR
416.967(b), except that the claimant can only: occasionally
climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; understand,
remember, and carry out simple instructions; make only
simple, work related decisions; deal with only occasional
changes in work processes and environment; have no contact
with the general public; have only incidental, superficial
work-related type contact with co-workers and supervisors,
i.e., brief, succinct, cursory, concise communication
relevant to the task being performed.
(TR. 35) (footnote omitted). With this RFC, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work.
(TR. 39). As a result, the ALJ made additional findings at
step five. There, the ALJ presented several limitations to a
vocational expert (VE) to determine whether there were other
jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform.
(TR. 78). Given the limitations, the VE identified three jobs
from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. (TR.
The ALJ adopted the testimony of the VE and concluded that
Ms. Gee was not disabled based on her ability to perform the
identified jobs. (TR. 40-41).
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).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in evaluating: (1)
the RFC and (2) “other source” evidence.
stated, the ALJ determined Ms. Gee suffered from severe
impairments involving major depressive disorder, recurrent,
severe, with psychotic features; and intermittent explosive
disorder. (TR. 29). Ms. Gee alleges that the ALJ failed to
include limitations in the RFC stemming from these severe
impairments. (ECF No. 16:3-12). The Court disagrees.
ALJ's Duty in Assessing the RFC
claimant's impairments are deemed severe at step two, the
ALJ has a duty to discuss their impact throughout the
remainder of the disability determination. 20 C.F.R. §
416.945(a)(2). Indeed, in formulating the RFC, the ALJ must
discuss the combined effect of all the
claimant's medically determinable impairments, both
severe and nonsevere. See Wells v. Colvin,
727 F.3d 1061, 1065 (10th Cir. 2013). However, “a
finding that an impairment is severe at step two is not
determinative of the claimant's RFC.” Johnson
v. Berryhill, 679 Fed.Appx. 682, 687 (10th Cir. 2017).
question is not whether the RFC recounts or lists the
‘severe' impairments found at step two, but whether
the RFC accounts for the work-related limitations that flow
from those impairments.” Cavalier v. Colvin,
13-CV-651-FHM, 2014 WL 7408430, at *2 (N.D. Okla. Dec. 30,
2014). In assessing an individual's RFC, the ALJ must
consider the limitations and restrictions imposed by a
claimant's severe impairments and express any limitations
in terms of specific, work-related activities he or she is
able to perform. See SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at
*6-7 (July 2, 1996).
No Error in the RFC Assessment
argues that the ALJ: (1) “omit[ted] critical portions
of [medical records] which include[d] the functionally
distinct limitations” and (2) the RFC should have
reflected such limitations. (ECF No. 16:5-12). The Court
rejects both arguments.
Ms. Gee claims that the ALJ failed to discuss evidence which
reflected Plaintiff's subjective reports of:
• blacking ...