United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
JUDITH A. MEEKS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Judith A. Meeks, seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's (SSA) denial of her application for
disability insurance benefits (DIB). The parties have
consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this matter by
a United States Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative
Record (AR), [Doc. No. 10], and both parties have briefed
their positions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
affirms the Commissioner's decision.
March 23, 2015, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff is not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to DIB. AR 73-88. The Appeals Council
granted Plaintiff's request for review and remanded the
case back to the same ALJ to correct various errors.
Id. at 95-97. The ALJ held a supplemental hearing,
and on March 23, 2018, issued a second unfavorable decision.
Id. at 11-19. The Appeals Counsel denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the second decision.
Id. at 1-5. Accordingly, the ALJ's second
decision constitutes the Commissioner's final decision.
See Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th
Cir. 2011). Plaintiff timely commenced this action for
The ALJ's Second Decision
followed the multi-step sequential evaluation process
required by agency regulations. See Wall v. Astrue,
561 F.3d 1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009) (explaining process);
see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The ALJ first
determined that Plaintiff met the insured status requirement
through December 31, 2018 and has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since August 5, 2013, her alleged onset
date. AR 13.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from severe spine
disorders, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity.
Id. Plaintiff's residual shingles, gastritis,
left maxillary sinus disease, history of colon cancer, and
depression were deemed non-severe. Id. at 14. Then,
at step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff's serve
impairments do not meet or medically equal any of the
impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1.
Id. at 15.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC), concluding that she:
[can] perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c)
except she [can] lift no more than 50 pounds. She [can] sit,
stand, and walk not to exceed 6 hours in a work day. She
[can] occasionally crouch.
at step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff can perform her
past relevant work as a licensed practical nurse “as
generally performed, ” and is therefore not disabled
for purposes of the Social Security Act. Id. at 18.
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
overarching allegation is that “the ALJ erred in . . .
determining [Plaintiff's] RFC.” Pl.'s Br. at
15. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ: (1)
failed to follow the Appeals Council's remand order to
conduct a “function-by-function” RFC assessment;
(2) failed to properly consider and/or explain the effects of
Plaintiff's “obesity-related limitations;”
(3) did not consider Plaintiff's non-severe impairments
in assessing her RFC; and, (4) did not clarify the RFC
regarding Plaintiff's ability to sit, stand, and walk.
Id. at 13-20.