United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
DEMORNAI T. BESS-BEASLEY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Demornai T. Bess-Beasley (the “Claimant”)
requests judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
application for disability benefits under the Social Security
Act. Claimant appeals the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and asserts that the Commissioner
erred because the ALJ incorrectly determined that Claimant
was not disabled. For the reasons discussed below, it is the
finding of this Court that the Commissioner's decision
should be and is 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 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.
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 re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “substantiality of the
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.
was 21 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed her education through the ninth or tenth
grade but dropped out after she encountered legal problems.
She subsequently took GED classes. Claimant has worked in the
past as a fast food employee, cook, ice cream maker, sandwich
maker, and food bagger. Claimant alleges an inability to work
beginning May 1, 2014 due to limitations resulting from
bipolar disorder, ADHD, depression, and mood swings.
14, 2014, Claimant filed for supplemental security income
pursuant to Title XVI (42 U.S.C. § 1381, et
seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On
September 12, 2016, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) David Engel conducted an administrative
hearing by video with Claimant appearing in Muskogee,
Oklahoma and the ALJ presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. On
October 13, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision.
The Appeals Council denied review on August 7, 2017. As a
result, the decision of the ALJ represents the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of further
appeal. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, she did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a
full range of medium work with limitations.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) failing to find
Claimant's conditions meet a listing; (2) finding
Claimant could perform work at step five which requires a
reasoning level of two; and (3) finding jobs exist in
significant numbers in the national economy which Claimant