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Goodin v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 1, 2019

JARED H. GOODIN, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         The claimant Jared H. Goodin requests judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying her application for benefits under the Social Security Act. She appeals the decision of the Commissioner and asserts that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in determining she was not disabled. For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's decision should be AFFIRMED.

         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 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[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 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]

         Judicial review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is limited to two inquiries: (1) whether the decision was supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v. Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997) [citation omitted]. The term “substantial evidence” requires “‘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). However, the Court may not reweigh the evidence nor substitute its discretion for that of the agency. See Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, 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 twenty-three years old at the time of the administrative hearing (Tr. 41). He completed eleventh grade, and has worked as a cashier, stocker, and cleaner (Tr. 22-23, 259). The claimant alleges he has been unable to work since an alleged onset date of June 30, 2011, due to ADD, ADHD, asthma, depression, anxiety, and insomnia (Tr. 15, 258).

         Procedural History

         On August 12, 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 Susan W. Conyers conducted an administrative hearing and determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written decision dated March 30, 2016 (Tr. 13-24). The Appeals Council denied review, so the ALJ's decision represents the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.

         Decision of the Administrative Law Judge

         The ALJ made her decision at step five of the sequential evaluation. She found that the claimant had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, but that he had the nonexertional limitations of: performing simple and routine tasks consistent with unskilled work, with regular and routine tasks, few changes in the workplace, and no tasks performed on a team, conveyor belt, or other fast-paced high volume production criteria, as well as no tasks involving the handling of money. Finally, she stated that the claimant would do best with tasks involving no contact with the general public (Tr. 17). The ALJ thus 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, e. g., floor waxer, laundry bagger, and shirt presser (Tr. 22-24).


         The claimant contends that the ALJ erred by: (i) failing to assess whether he meets Listing 12.05, (ii) failing to properly consider two other source opinions as to his limitations, (iii) improperly determining he could perform the job of shirt presser, and (iv) failing to include all of his limitations in formulating the RFC, which in turn affected the jobs identified. The undersigned Magistrate Judge finds these contentions unpersuasive for the following reasons.

         The ALJ determined that the claimant had the severe impairment of borderline intellectual functioning with attention deficit disorder, as well as the nonsevere impairment of asthma (Tr. 15-16). The relevant medical evidence as to the claimant's impairments reflects that the claimant was flagged for special education services in the seventh grade, with a composite IQ score of 78, described as low average (Tr. 353-354, 531). The results of this Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale were as follows: 84 for Verbal Reasoning SAS, 88 for Abstract/Visual Reasoning SAS, 90 for Quantitative Reasoning SAS, 62 for Short Term Memory SAS, and a composite score of 78 (Tr. 531). The narrative stated that ...

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