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Monica s v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

July 20, 2018

MONICA S., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          FRANK H. MCCARTHY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, MONICA S., seeks judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying Social Security disability benefits.[1] In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

         Standard of Review

         The role of the court in reviewing the decision of the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a determination of whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence and whether the decision contains a sufficient basis to determine that the Commissioner has applied the correct legal standards. See Briggs ex rel. Briggs v. Massanari, 1235');">248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir. 2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir. 1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance, and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court may neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 993 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).

         Background

         Plaintiff was 50 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability and 51 years old on the date of the denial decision. She has a high school education and some vocational college. Her past work experience includes a church janitor and school bus driver. [R. 24]. Plaintiff claims to have been unable to work since January 19, 2015[2] due to severe right hip pain and some left hip discomfort. [R. 42, 58, 184].

         The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: history of hip pain and obesity. [R. 21]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work in that she can lift/carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. Plaintiff can stand and/or walk at least 6 hours and sit at least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. [R. 23]. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled because at step four, she retained the residual functional capacity to perform her past relevant work. [R. 24]. At step five, the ALJ found that there are a significant number of jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform with these limitations. [R. 25]. The case was thus decided at step four with an alternative step five finding of the five-step evaluative sequence for determining whether a claimant is disabled. See Williams v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in detail).

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff asserts the ALJ: 1) failed to properly consider medical source opinions; and 2) failed to properly consider Plaintiff's allegations. [Dkt. 11');">11, p. 3].

         Analysis

         Medical Source Opinions

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to properly consider the medical source opinions, specifically, treating physicians, Martin T. Cooper, M.D., and Mark James Maguire, M.D., and consultative examiner, Dr. Theron J. Bliss, D.O. [Dkt. 11');">11, p. 4-5]. Plaintiff contends that the ALJ did not consider “trochanteric bursitis” to be a severe impairment. Plaintiff acknowledges that failing to find trochanteric bursitis a severe impairment at step two is not, in itself, error because at step two all the ALJ has to do is find that a severe impairment exists, but argues it effects how the ALJ evaluates the case and evidence. Further, trochanteric bursitis was not mentioned anywhere in the decision. [Dkt. 11');">11, p. 4-5].

         On January 19, 2015, Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Cooper for complaints of hip pain. Plaintiff indicated that the severity of pain was 10/10. Dr. Cooper found Plaintiff exhibited tenderness, pain on movement, and decreased range of motion. Plaintiff was diagnosed with bilateral hip pain, prescribed medication, and instructed to return if symptoms worsen or fail to improve. [R. 278-284]. On September 14, 2015[3], Dr. Cooper completed a Handicapped ...


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