United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MICHAEL L. STANSBERRY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Michael L. Stansberry, brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the portion of
the Social Security Administration's final decision
finding he was not disabled under the Social Security Act.
The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction
over this matter by a United States Magistrate Judge.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The Commissioner has
filed the Administrative Record (AR) [Doc. No. 9], and both
parties have briefed their respective
positions. For the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
October 5, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed applications
for supplemental security income and disability insurance
benefits. See AR 16. The Social Security
Administration denied the applications initially and on
reconsideration. AR 104-105, 130-131. Following a hearing, an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a partially favorable
decision dated September 23, 2015. AR 12-35. The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR 6-9.
Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final decision of
the Commissioner. Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324,
1327 (10th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the
unfavorable portion of this final agency decision.
See Pl.'s Br. 5.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the sequential evaluation process required by agency
regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d
729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005) (explaining five-step sequential
evaluation process); see also 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520; 416.920. The ALJ first determined Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 22, 2011,
the alleged onset date. AR 19.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had impairments-diabetes
mellitus with peripheral neuropathy; toes amputated; ischemic
heart disease with stents and bypass; chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (“COPD”); other and unspecified
arthropathies; gastrointestinal reflux disease
(“GERD”); obesity; hypertension, not otherwise
specified; hyperlipidemia; and restless leg syndrome-which,
when combined, constituted a severe impairment. AR
19-24. At step three, the ALJ found
Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal
any of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. AR 24-25.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
[F]rom July 22, 2011, up until the established onset date of
disability of May 12, 2015, [Plaintiff] had the residual
functional capacity to perform light exertion work as defined
in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) restricted as follows:
[Plaintiff] could occasionally lift and/or carry (including
upward pulling) 20 pounds; [Plaintiff] could frequently lift
and/or carry (including upward pulling) 10 pounds;
[Plaintiff] could stand and/or walk (with normal breaks) for
a total of six hours in an 8-hour workday; [Plaintiff] could
sit (with normal breaks) for a total of six hours in an
8-hour workday; [Plaintiff's] ability to push and/or pull
(including operation of hand and/or foot controls) was
unlimited, other than as shown above for lift and/or carry;
[Plaintiff] could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch,
crawl, and climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, and
stairs. [Plaintiff] had no other physical limitations of any
kind. [Plaintiff] had no mental limitations of any kind.
25-31. The ALJ further concluded:
[B]eginning on the established onset date of May 12, 2015,
through the present, [Plaintiff] has the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) with the following limitations:
[Plaintiff] can occasionally lift and/or carry (including
upward pulling) 10 pounds; [Plaintiff] can frequently lift
and/or carry (including upward pulling) 5 pounds; [Plaintiff]
can stand and/or walk (with normal breaks[)] for a total of 2
hours in an 8-hour workday; [Plaintiff] can sit (with normal
breaks) for a total of 6 hours in an 8-hour workday;
[Plaintiff's] ability to push and/or pull (including
operation of hand and/or foot controls) is unlimited, other
than as shown above for lift and/or carry; [Plaintiff] can
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb
ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, and stairs; [Plaintiff] can
understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions;
[Plaintiff] can make judgments that are simple, work-related
decisions; [Plaintiff] can respond appropriately to
supervisors, co-workers, and usual work situations; and
[Plaintiff] can deal with changes in a routine work setting.
AR 31-33. Relying on the testimony of a vocational expert
(VE), the ALJ determined that from July 22, 2011, up until
the established onset date of disability of May 12, 2015,
Plaintiff was capable of performing past relevant work as a
salesperson. AR 33. The ALJ next determined that from May 12,
2015, through the present, Plaintiff was prevented from
performing past relevant work. AR 33-34. The ALJ further
concluded that beginning on May 12, 2015, there were no jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that Plaintiff can perform. AR 34. The ALJ concluded,
therefore, that Plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of
the Social Security Act before May 12, 2015, but became
disabled on that date and remained disabled through the date
of the decision. AR 35. Further, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not under a disability at any time through December 31,
2012, the date last insured. Id.
Issue Presented for Judicial Review
contends the ALJ improperly ignored evidence and, as a
result, improperly found Plaintiff could perform his ...