United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gary Goodin 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 application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. Upon
review of the administrative record (Doc. No. 10, hereinafter
“R. ”),  and the arguments and authorities
submitted by the parties, the Court affirms the
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
filed his DIB application on March 21, 2011. R. 13, 418-20.
In his application, Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date
of December 15, 2008. R. 418. Plaintiff subsequently amended
his disability onset date to October 25, 2010. R. 13, 53, 74,
100. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on
reconsideration. R. 150-54, 156-58. An initial hearing, held
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on
October 15, 2013, was rescheduled after Plaintiff was
admitted to the hospital. R. 44-49. At a second hearing held
on April 2, 2014, Plaintiff testified about his impairments,
and the same ALJ ordered additional testing and a
consultative psychological examination. R. 50-70. At a third
hearing before that ALJ, on October 14, 2014, the ALJ heard
the testimony of Plaintiff, a vocational expert
(“VE”), and medical expert Howard McClure, MD. R.
71-97, 328. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
November 26, 2014. R. 123-37.
December 30, 2015, the SSA Appeals Council granted review of
Plaintiff's case and remanded it to the ALJ for
additional development. R. 146-49. Following this remand, the
same ALJ held a fourth hearing, on November 2, 2016. R.
98-119. Plaintiff, a VE, and medical experts Kweli Amusa, MD,
and Beth Maxwell, MD, testified at the hearing. Id.
The ALJ issued a revised unfavorable decision on February 15,
2017. R. 10-34.
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 between his amended onset date of October
25, 2010, and his date last insured of September 30, 2011. R.
16. At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
severe medically determinable impairments of hypertension,
diabetes, morbid obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, pain disorder, sleep apnea, major depression
(recurrent moderate), learning disorder, anxiety disorder,
posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline intellectual
functioning, and personality disorder. R. 16. 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. 17-22.
next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all his medically determinable
impairments. R. 22-32. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had the
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), i.e., to
lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently, stand/walk 6 hours of an 8-ho[ur] workday, and
sit 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. [Plaintiff] is limited to
frequent balancing and to occasional stooping, kneeling,
crouching, pushing/pulling with the upper/lower extremities,
and climbing of ramps and stairs. [Plaintiff] should never
crawl and climb ladders, ramps and scaffolds. Furthermore,
[Plaintiff] should avoid working at unprotected heights,
around dangerous moving equipment or machinery or on uneven
or unstable work surfaces. Mentally, [Plaintiff] can
understand, remember, comprehend and carry out simple work
related instructions and tasks. [Plaintiff] is able to work
with coworkers and supervisors on a superficial work basis
but he cannot work with the public. In addition, [Plaintiff]
is able to adapt to routine changes in the work environment.
R. 22. 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 truck driver. R.
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. 33-34. Relying upon the VE's testimony, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform the light, unskilled
occupations of merchandise marker, routing clerk, and
solderer-dipper, and that such occupations offer jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy. R.
33-34, 116-17. The ALJ therefore determined that Plaintiff
had not been disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act during the relevant period. R. 34.
request for review by the SSA Appeals Council was denied on
October 26, 2017, and the unfavorable determination of the
ALJ stands as the Commissioner's final decision. R. 1-7;
20 C.F.R. § 404.981.
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 ...