United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Saeed Naderi brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying Plaintiff's applications for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-434. Upon review of the administrative record (Doc. No.
11, hereinafter “R. ”), and the arguments and
authorities submitted by the parties, the Court affirms the
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
protectively filed his DIB application on January 21, 2015.
R. 19, 150-53. In his application, Plaintiff alleged a
disability-onset date of June 11, 2013. R. 19, 150. Plaintiff
subsequently amended his disability onset date to September
15, 2014. R. 19, 38. Following denial of his application
initially and on reconsideration, a hearing was held before
an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on July 25,
2016. R. 35-56, 87-90, 92-94. In addition to Plaintiff, a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified at the
hearing. R. 52-55. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
September 27, 2016. R. 16-30.
Commissioner of Social Security uses a five-step sequential
evaluation process to determine entitlement to disability
benefits. See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052
(10th Cir. 2009); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step one, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since his amended disability-onset date. R.
21. At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
severe, medically determinable impairments of lumbar
degenerative disc disease, depression, history of a stroke,
and status post hip replacement. R. 21-22. At step three, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff's condition did not meet or
equal any of the presumptively disabling impairments listed
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R. 22-23.
next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all his medically determinable
impairments. R. 23-28. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had the
perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except
no more than occasional stooping, kneeling, and crouching,
and no exposure to unprotected heights or dangerous
machinery. [Plaintiff] is able to understand, remember, and
carry out simple instructions, but not detailed instructions.
R. 23-24. At step four, the ALJ considered the hearing
testimony of the VE and found that Plaintiff was not capable
of performing his past relevant work as a forklift truck
operator. R. 28-29.
five, the ALJ considered whether there are jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff-in
view of his age, education, work experience, and RFC-could
perform. R. 29-30. Relying upon the VE's testimony
regarding the degree of erosion to the unskilled medium
occupational base caused by Plaintiff's additional
limitations, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform
medium, unskilled occupations such as floor waxer, hand
packager, and laundry laborer, and that such occupations
offer jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy. R. 29-30, 52-55.
therefore determined that Plaintiff had not been disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act during the
relevant period. R. 30. Plaintiff's request for review by
the SSA Appeals Council was denied, and the unfavorable
determination of the ALJ stands as the Commissioner's
final decision. R. 1-8; see 20 C.F.R. §
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether
correct legal standards were applied. Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is
a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it.” Branum
v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court
“meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, ”
including any evidence “that may undercut or detract
from the ALJ's findings, ” “to determine if
the substantiality test has been met.” Wall,
561 F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation marks omitted). While a
reviewing court considers whether the Commissioner followed
applicable rules of law in weighing particular types of
evidence in disability cases, the court does not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its own judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272
(10th Cir. 2008).
action, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by failing to
properly consider the report of consultative examiner Cynthia