Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 12, 2019

ERNEST SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Ernest Smith, seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration's denial of disability insurance benefits (DIB). This matter has been referred by Chief United States District Judge Joe Heaton for proposed findings and recommendations. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B), 636(b)(3). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative Record (AR) [Doc. No. 11], and both parties have briefed their respective positions.[1] For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the Commissioner's decision be reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

         I. Procedural Background

         On September 1, 2015, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB. See AR 19. The Social Security Administration denied the application initially and on reconsideration. AR 55, 67. Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision dated March 10, 2017. AR 16-36. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR 1-6. 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 this final agency decision.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ 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. The ALJ first determined Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 16, 2014, the alleged onset date. AR 21.

         At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following severe impairments: ischemic heart disease and degenerative disc disease, status-post cervical fusion and discectomy. AR 21-23.[2] 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 23.

         The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC), concluding Plaintiff could perform a full range of light work. AR 23-30. Relying on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ found Plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as an environmental specialist, healthcare facility inspector, and code inspector. AR 30. The ALJ concluded, therefore, that Plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. AR 30-31.

         III. Standard of Review

          Judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to determining whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the correct legal standards were applied. See 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) (quotation 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). The court “meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, including anything that may undercut or detract from the ALJ's findings in order to determine if the substantiality test has been met.” Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). While the court considers whether the ALJ followed the 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) (quotations and citations omitted).

         IV. Claim Presented for Judicial Review

         Plaintiff asserts the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of Dr. Joey Fowler, M.D., a treating physician. The Court agrees and recommends that this matter be reversed and remanded.

         V. Analysis

         A. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.