United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Elaine Ann Barrett 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
(“SSA”) denying Plaintiff's applications for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. The
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States
Magistrate Judge. Upon review of the administrative record
(Doc. No. 12, hereinafter “R. ”),  and the arguments
and authorities submitted by the parties, the Court reverses
the Commissioner's decision and remands the case for
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
protectively filed her DIB application on January 9, 2014,
alleging a disability onset date of February 13, 2013. R. 15,
137-42. Following a denial of her application initially and
on reconsideration, a hearing was held before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on August 6,
2015. R. 28-64, 83-86, 88-90. In addition to Plaintiff, a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified at the
hearing. R. 59-63. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
November 25, 2015. R. 12-24.
relevant here, the Commissioner uses a five-step sequential
evaluation process to determine entitlement to disability
benefits. See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052
(10th Cir. 2009); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step one, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since her alleged onset date of February 13,
2013. R. 17. At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
had the severe medically determinable impairments of obesity,
asthma, osteoarthritis, status post right ankle fusion,
hypertension, and status post remote motor vehicle accident
resulting in multiple injuries requiring surgical
intervention. R. 17-18. At step three, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's condition did not meet or equal any of the
presumptively disabling impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R. 18.
next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all of her medically
determinable impairments. R. 18-22. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to
lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds
frequently. [Plaintiff] can sit for about six hours during an
eight-hour workday and stand and walk for at least two hours
during an eight-hour workday. [Plaintiff] can occasionally
climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl. [Plaintiff] cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.
[Plaintiff] should avoid concentrated exposure to dusts,
fumes, gases, odors, and poor ventilation. [Plaintiff] cannot
use right foot controls.
R. 18. At step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
incapable of performing her past relevant work as a pharmacy
technician. R. 22.
five, the ALJ considered whether there are jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff-in
view of her age, education, work experience, and RFC-could
perform. R. 22-23. Relying upon the VE's testimony, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform sedentary, unskilled
occupations such as: order clerk, food and beverage; call-out
operator; and final assembler of optical goods, and that such
occupations offer jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy. R. 22-23. Therefore, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff had not been disabled within the meaning of
the Social Security Act during the relevant period. R. 23-24.
request for review by the SSA Appeals Council was denied on
November 28, 2016, and the unfavorable determination of the
ALJ stands as the Commissioner's final decision.
See R. 1-5; 20 C.F.R. § 404.981.
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether
correct legal standards were applied. Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is
a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it.” Branum
v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court
“meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, ”
including any evidence “that may undercut or detract
from the ALJ's findings, ” “to determine if
the substantiality test has been met.” Wall,
561 F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation marks omitted). While a
reviewing court considers whether the Commissioner followed
applicable rules of law in weighing particular types of
evidence in disability cases, the court does not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its own judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272
(10th Cir. 2008).
action, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by: (1) failing
to properly weigh and evaluate an opinion from
Plaintiff's treating orthopedist, (2) not considering all
of Plaintiff's limitations in the hypothetical posed to
the VE, and (3) failing to assess the impact of