United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Ashley Ranae Parker 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 the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she was not disabled. For the reasons set forth
below, the Commissioner's decision is REVERSED and the
case REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings.
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 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 years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 52). She has a ninth grade
education and no past relevant work (Tr. 70, 207). The
claimant alleges she has been unable to work since January 1,
2000, due to paranoid schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety
(Tr. 184, 207).
18, 2013, the claimant applied for supplemental security
income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85 (Tr. 184-90). Her application
was denied. ALJ Larry Shepherd conducted an administrative
hearing and determined that the claimant was not disabled in
a written opinion dated February 26, 2016 (Tr. 29-39). 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. §
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He found that the claimant had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at all
exertional levels with the following nonexertional
limitations: (i) simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; (ii)
relate to supervisors and coworkers on a superficial work
basis; (iii) respond to usual work situations; and (iv) no
contact with the general public (Tr. 33). The ALJ then
concluded that although the claimant had no past relevant
work, she was nevertheless not disabled because there was
work she could perform in the national economy, e.
g., hand packager, machine attendant, and laundry worker
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to properly
evaluate the opinion of treating physician Dr. Wellie Adlaon.
The Court agrees, and the decision of the Commissioner must
therefore be reversed and the case remanded to the ALJ for
found the claimant's major depressive disorder,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder were
severe impairments, but that her seizure disorder, irritable
bowel syndrome, and low blood pressure were not medically
determinable (Tr. 31). The relevant medical evidence reveals
that Dr. Lawren Meredith treated the claimant for generalized
anxiety disorder and depressive disorder not otherwise
specified on two occasions in July 2012 (Tr. 312-15).
Thereafter, Dr. Ursula Bowling completed a psychological
consultative examination of the claimant on December 20, 2013
(Tr. 341-45). Dr. Bowling noted that the claimant was very
labile, had a depressed affect, appeared to have low energy,
and evidenced high anxiety during the interview (Tr. 341-43).
On examination, Dr. Bowling found the claimant had very poor
recall and memory; poor concentration, attention, judgement
and insight; and average intelligence (Tr. 343). She made a
provisional diagnosis of major depression with psychotic
features, rule out psychotic disorder not otherwise
specified, bipolar disorder with psychotic features,
schizophrenia, or malingering (Tr. 343). Dr. Bowling ...