Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Reed v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

February 28, 2019

MICHAEL REED, O/B/O, TAMMY ANN REED, deceased, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         The claimant Michael Reed, o/b/o Tammy Ann Reed, deceased, requests judicial review of a denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). He appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in determining that the claimant was not disabled. As discussed below, the undersigned Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that the Commissioner's decision be REVERSED and the case REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings.

         Social Security Law and Standard of Review

         Disability 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 h[er] physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that [s]he is not only unable to do h[er] previous work but cannot, considering h[er] 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.[1]

         Section 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. Sec'y of Health & Human Svcs., 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 800-01.

         Claimant's Background

         The claimant was fifty-one years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 149). She completed two years of college, and had worked as a production clerk, billing clerk, administrative clerk, accounting clerk, secretary, and lawn mower (Tr. 27, 172, 229). The claimant alleged that she had been unable to work since an alleged onset date of March 20, 2014, due to residual effects from her July 2012 stroke, weakness and numbness on the left side, diabetes, hip pain, hand problems, and fibromyalgia (Tr. 17, 171-172).

         Procedural History

         On June 18, 2014 the claimant applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. Her application was denied. ALJ Luke Liter conducted an administrative hearing and determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated December 27, 2016 (Tr. 15-28). 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.

         Decision of the Administrative Law Judge

         The ALJ made his decision at step four of the sequential evaluation. He found that the claimant had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to lift/carry/push/pull twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday, and stand/walk for one hour each in an eight-hour workday, such that she could sit for two hours at one time, stand for one hour at one time, and walk for one hour at one time. He further found that she could frequently use the bilateral upper extremities for reaching in all directions (excluding overhead), handling, fingering, and feeling; occasionally use her bilateral upper extremities for reaching overhead and pushing/pulling; frequently use the bilateral lower extremities for operating foot controls; occasionally climb ramps/stairs, balance, stoop kneel, crouch, crawl; should avoid climbing ladders/ropes/scaffolds and stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. Additionally, he found the claimant could not tolerate any exposure to unprotected heights, extreme heat, or vibrations; but she could tolerate occasional exposure to moving mechanical parts, operating a motor vehicle, humidity and wetness, and dust, odors, fumes, and pulmonary irritants. Finally, he stated that she could tolerate moderate office noise (Tr. 20). The ALJ then concluded that the claimant could return to her past work as an accounting clerk (Tr. 27).


         The Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ erred by finding the claimant could perform the manipulative demands, including prolonged fingering, of her past relevant work. As part of this argument, he asserts that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate a treating physician opinion, and other opinion evidence in the record. The undersigned Magistrate Judge agrees with this contention, and the Commissioner's decision should therefore be reversed.

         The ALJ determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of fibromyalgia, status post very mild stroke, obesity, and diabetes mellitus, as well as the nonsevere impairment of depression (Tr. 17). Relevant medical records from West Washington County Clinic in Lincoln, Arkansas reflect that in July 2012 the claimant experienced an acute right thalamic infarct, i. e., a stroke (Tr. 239). Following the stroke, she had musculoskeletal symptoms, fibromyalgia, and body pain, including persistent hand pain (Tr. 254-255, 263, 266). The hand pain was described as progressing up the elbows bilaterally and causing deep pain (Tr. 263). On August 15, 2013, the hand pain was assessed as significant, disabling, and interfering with all daily functions, even holding a steering wheel for a short time (Tr. 267, 271). She had previously had mild carpal tunnel before the stroke, and the stroke seemed to have exacerbated the pain (Tr. 267). On February 9, 2015, treatment notes reiterate that the claimant's hands were still so stiff ...

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.