United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Amanda Jo Holmes requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby AFFIRMED.
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.
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 thirty-five years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 269). She has a high school
education and has worked as a retail sales clerk, stock
clerk, cashier II, short order cook, and sales clerk (Tr.
171, 297). The claimant alleges that she has been unable to
work since June 16, 2015, due to bipolar disorder,
posttraumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”),
borderline personality disorder, agoraphobia, and
dissociative identity disorder (Tr. 296).
June 18, 2015, the claimant applied for supplemental security
income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. Her application was denied.
ALJ Dierdre O. Dexter conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
opinion dated August 22, 2016 (Tr. 107-120). The Appeals
Council denied review, so the ALJ's written opinion
represents the Commissioners' final decision for purposes
of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
ALJ made her decision at step five of the sequential
evaluation. She found that the claimant had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium
work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(c), with the
following nonexertional limitations: (i) simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks not at production rate; (ii) occasional
interaction with supervisors to receive work instructions;
(iii) no more than occasional, direct, work-related
interaction with co-workers; (iv) no interaction with the
general public; and (v) no more than ordinary and routine
changes in work setting or work duties (Tr. 112). The ALJ
then concluded that although the claimant could not return to
her past relevant work, she was nevertheless not disabled
because there was work she could perform in the national
economy, e. g., industrial sweeper, floor waxer, and
hand packager (Tr. 118-20).
claimant's sole contention of error is that the ALJ erred
in evaluating the opinion of treating physician Dr. Michael
Collins. The Court finds this contention unpersuasive for the
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of
degenerative disc disease, affective disorder, anxiety
related disorder, personality disorder, and substance
addiction disorder, but that her asthma, restless leg
syndrome, and fibromyalgia were nonsevere (Tr. 109). The
relevant medical record reveals that Dr. Carol Gambrill
treated the claimant for anxiety from January 2013 through
August 2014 and for bipolar disorder in May 2014 and August
2014 (Tr. 380-99). Thereafter, the claimant's primary
care physician, Dr. Douglas Brown, treated her for, inter
alia, unspecified bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety
disorder, insomnia due to mental disorder, agoraphobia with
panic disorder, and chronic PTSD from October 2014 through
June 2016 (Tr. 446-519, 556-606). At a follow-up appointment
on August 12, 2015, Dr. Brown noted the claimant's
bipolar disorder and agoraphobia were stable and controlled
on medication, and that her PTSD was stable (Tr. 514). Dr.