United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. PURCELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
seeks judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of
the final decision of Defendant Commissioner denying her
application for disability insurance benefits under Title II
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34.
The Commissioner has answered the Complaint and filed the
administrative record (hereinafter “AR”), and the
parties have briefed the issues. The matter has been referred
to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings
consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the
following reasons, it is recommended the Commissioner's
decision be affirmed.
Administrative History and Agency Decision
applied for disability benefits on November 24, 2015. AR
168-69. Plaintiff alleged she became disabled beginning on
June 10, 2014, due to major depressive disorder with
recurring episodes. AR 168, 195. The Social Security
Administration denied Plaintiff's application on January
26, 2016, see Id. at 42, 43-52, and on
reconsideration on August 23, 2016. AR 53, 54-65.
appeared with counsel and testified at an administrative
hearing conducted on April 25, 2017, before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). AR 27-39. A vocational expert
(“VE”) also testified at the hearing. AR 33-36.
On July 12, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision in which he found
Plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision.
the agency's well-established sequential evaluation
process, the ALJ found at the first step that Plaintiff had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 10,
2014. AR 17. At the second step, the ALJ found Plaintiff had
a severe impairment of affective disorder. Id.
third step, the ALJ found these impairments were not per
se disabling as Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
requirements of a listed impairment. Id. At step
four, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work
at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional
limitations: Plaintiff can only perform simple and some
complex tasks with routine supervision, can relate to
supervisors and peers on a superficial work basis only, and
cannot interact with the public. AR 19. The ALJ also found
Plaintiff can adapt to a work situation. Id.
on the VE's testimony as to the ability of a hypothetical
individual with Plaintiff's work history, age, education,
and determined RFC, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff could perform
jobs of janitor, dishwasher, and floor waxer, each of which
exist in significant numbers in the national economy. AR
21-22. Based on this finding, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff had
not been under a disability, as defined by the Social
Security Act, from November 23, 2015 through the date of the
decision. AR 22.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
and therefore the ALJ's decision is the final decision of
the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; Wall v.
Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009).
appeal, Plaintiff raises two issues. Doc. No. 18
(“Pl's Br.”). In her first issue, Plaintiff
contends the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the opinion of
Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Patrick Horn.
Id. at 8-11. Second, Plaintiff asserts the ALJ
failed to properly evaluate her subjective assessments or
reports regarding the severity of her symptoms and resulting
limitations. Id. at 12-15.
General Legal Standards Guiding Judicial Review
Court must determine whether the Commissioner's decision
is 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);
Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758, 760 (10th Cir.
2003). “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. It requires more than a scintilla, but less than
a preponderance.” Lax v. Astrue, 489 F.3d
1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotations
omitted). The “determination of whether the ALJ's
ruling is supported by substantial evidence must be based
upon the record taken as a whole. Consequently, [the Court
must] remain mindful that evidence is not substantial if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record.”
Wall, 561 F.3d at 1052 (citations, quotations, and
Social Security Act authorizes payment of benefits to an
individual with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 401, et
seq. A disability is an “inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); accord
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A); see 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1509, 416.909 (duration requirement). Both