United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Mark Alfred Davis requests judicial review pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
his application for benefits under the Social Security Act.
He appeals the decision of the Commissioner and asserts that
the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining he was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision should be REVERSED and
the case REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings.
Security Law and Standard of Review
under the Social Security Act is defined as the
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). A
claimant is disabled under the Social Security Act
“only if his physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable
to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy[.]” Id. § 423 (d)(2)(A). Social
security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to two inquiries: whether the
decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997).
Substantial evidence is “‘more than a mere
scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971), quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938); see also Clifton v.
Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009 (10th Cir. 1996). The Court
may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its discretion for
the Commissioner's. See Casias v. Secretary of Health
& Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir.
1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and
“[t]he substantiality of evidence must take into
account whatever in the record fairly detracts from its
weight.” Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340
U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also Casias, 933 F.2d at
claimant was forty-nine years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 39). He completed his GED and has
worked as an electrician apprentice (Tr. 19, 284). The
claimant alleges inability to work since April 18, 2013 due
to problems with his back and legs, anxiety, and depression
(Tr. 13, 283).
March 31, 2014, the claimant applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and for supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. His applications were denied.
ALJ B.D. Crutchfield conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated February 22, 2016 (Tr. 10-21). The Appeals
Council denied review, so the ALJ's opinion is the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this
appeal. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981,
of the Administrative Law Judge
made her decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
She found that the claimant had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work,
i. e., he could lift/carry ten pounds occasionally
and less than ten pounds frequently, stand/walk for two hours
in an eight-hour workday, and sit for six hours in an
eight-hour workday, except that he was unable to climb ropes,
ladders, and scaffolds, and he could only occasionally climb
ramps/stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.
Additionally, she determined that he could perform simple
tasks with routine supervision, relate to supervisors and
peers on a superficial work basis, and adapt to a work
situation, but that he could not relate to the general public
(Tr. 15). The ALJ concluded that although the claimant could
not return to his past relevant work, he was nevertheless not
disabled because there was work he could perform, i.
e., semi-conductor bonder, machine feeder, and film
touch-up inspector (Tr. 19-20).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by: (i) improperly
weighing the medical evidence, namely, treating physician
opinions, and (ii) failing to identify jobs that account for
all of his impairments. Because the ALJ does appear
to have ignored probative evidence regarding the
claimant's impairments, the decision of the Commissioner
should be reversed.
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
degenerative disc disease, status post fusion at ¶ 4-L5
and L5-S1, depression, and anxiety (Tr. 13). The medical
evidence relevant to this appeal reveals that in 2008, the
claimant underwent a laminectomy, discectomy, and fusion at
¶ 4-5 and L5-S1, performed by Dr. Tyler Boone (Tr. 360,
375). Following that surgery, the claimant was released with
permanent restrictions to sedentary work (Tr. 399). On August
6, 2012, Dr. Boone saw the claimant again and assessed him
with postlaminectomy syndrome and chronic back pain with a
history of previous fusion (Tr. 399). Noting that the
claimant was in pain management, Dr. Boone stated that there
would “probably be hours every day, days every week,
and weeks in every month that he would not be ...