United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Craig Dill requests judicial review pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) of the decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying his application for
benefits under the Social Security Act. The claimant 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 AFFIRMED.
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.
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: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997) [citation
omitted]. The term substantial evidence has been interpreted
by the United States Supreme Court to require
“‘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). The Court may not reweigh the evidence nor substitute
its discretion for that of the agency. 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 was forty-eight years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 23). He completed high school,
and has worked as a derrick worker (Tr. 17, 226). The
claimant alleges inability to work since an amended alleged
onset date of April 25, 2014, due to high blood pressure,
Hepatitis C, diabetes, neuropathy, left-eye blindness, and
ankles (Tr. 225).
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, on March 31, 2015. His applications were denied.
Following an administrative hearing, ALJ James Bentley found
that the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated
August 4, 2016 (Tr. 11-18). The Appeals Council denied
review, so the ALJ's written opinion is the final
decision of the Commissioner for purposes of this appeal.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1581.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He found that the claimant had the ability to perform light
work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b), i. e., that he could lift/carry up to
twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, sit for
up to six hours and stand/walk for up to six hours in an
eight-hour workday, but that he required a sit/stand option
defined as a temporary change in position from sitting to
standing no more than once every twenty minutes, without
leaving the workstation so as not to diminish pace or
production. Additionally, he limited the claimant to
occasionally climbing ramps/stairs, and avoiding normal
workplace hazards (such as doors left ajar and boxes on the
floor), as well as avoiding unprotected heights and dangerous
moving machinery (Tr. 14). The ALJ concluded that even though
the claimant could not return to his past relevant work, he
was nevertheless not disabled because there was work he could
perform, i. e., small products assembler, inspector
packer, and electric accessory assembler (Tr. 16-18).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by: (i) failing to
properly evaluate his RFC, and (ii) failing to properly
account for his nonsevere impairments. As to the first
contention, the claimant specifically asserts that the ALJ
failed to conduct a function-by-function assessment,
improperly rejected a consultative examiner's opinion,
failed to account for limitations related to his ankle injury
and vision loss, and did not account for his use of a cane.
None of these contentions are ultimately persuasive, and the
decision of the Commissioner should therefore be affirmed.
found the claimant had the severe impairments of Hepatitis C,
left eye blindness, diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, severe
left ankle sprain, moderate spondylosis of the thoracic
spine, and obesity, as well as the nonsevere impairment of
headaches (Tr. 13). The medical evidence in the record
reflects that the claimant lost his left eye in the 1990s due
to an incident involving battery acid in his face (Tr. 294).
Additionally, he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2013, and
he was ...