United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
claimant Brian Lee Coleman requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). He
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining he was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby 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 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.
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-one years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 45). He has a high school
education and has worked as a carpet cleaner (Tr. 45, 59).
The claimant alleges he has been unable to work since April
30, 2013, due to schizophrenia, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), and depression
26, 2015, 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 (Tr. 10, 190-99). ALJ Larry D.
Shepherd conducted an administrative hearing and determined
that the claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated
October 24, 2016 (Tr. 10-26). The Appeals Council denied
review, so the ALJ's opinion is the final decision of the
Commissioner for purposes of this appeal. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
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 a full range of work
at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional
limitations: (i) understand, remember, and carry out 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. 14). The ALJ then concluded that although the claimant
could not return to his past relevant work, he was
nevertheless not disabled because there was work that he
could perform in the national economy, e. g., linen
room attendant, machine packager, and hand packager (Tr.
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to properly
evaluate his subjective statements. More specifically, he
asserts that the ALJ failed to consider whether he had a
valid reason for noncompliance with treatment, and that the
ALJ improperly relied on the absence of any limitations from
a treating or examining source, improperly relied on his
activities of daily living, and did not properly consider the
statements from his mother, stepfather, brother and sister.
The Court agrees that the ALJ did not properly evaluate the
third party statements in the record, and finds further error
with respect to the ALJ's analysis of the medical source
statements provided by the claimant's case manager. The
decision of the Commissioner must therefore be reversed and
the case remanded for further proceedings.
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of
schizoaffective disorder, ADHD, depression, and rule out
borderline intellectual functioning (Tr. 12). The relevant
medical records reveal that the claimant was admitted for
inpatient mental health care at Red Rock Behavioral Health
Services in May 2012, June 2013, and May 2015 due to suicidal
ideation (Tr. 396-415). He was stabilized on medication and
discharged with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder from
all three courses of treatment, as well as malingering in
June 2013, and unspecified psychosis in May 2015 (Tr.
438-59). The claimant did not follow up with ...