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Cook v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 8, 2019

WANDA COOK, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Wanda Cook, seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration's denial of her applications for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI).[1] Chief United States District Judge Joe Heaton has referred the matter for proposed findings and recommendations. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative Record (AR), [Doc. No. 13], and both parties have briefed their positions.[2] For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed.

         I. Procedural Background

         On December 22, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to DIB or SSI. AR 18-36. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at 1-7. Accordingly, the ALJ's 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 judicial review.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ followed the five-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, 416.920. The ALJ first determined that Plaintiff met the insured status requirement through December 31, 2018 and has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 15, 2014, her alleged onset date. AR 20.

         At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following severe impairments: “diabetes mellitus, degenerative disc disease status post-surgery, status post left knee surgery, right knee arthritis, hypothyroidism, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome status post surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, fibrosis of the liver, asthma, and morbid obesity.” Id. at 21. Then, at step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff's 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 22-23.

The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity, concluding that she:
[can] lift and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently. She can sit for 6 hours out of [an] 8-hour workday. [She] can stand and/or walk for 2 hours out of an 8-hour workday. She can occasionally climb stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She should avoid concentrated exposure to dust and fumes. [She] should avoid unprotected heights and open machinery. She [can] use her bilateral hands for no more than frequent use of the hands for handling and fingering.

Id. at 23-24.

         At step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work, id. at 34, and at step five, found Plaintiff can work as document preparer and/or clerical mailer, work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. Id. at 35. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. Id. at 35-36.

         III. Claim Presented for Judicial Review

         According to Plaintiff, the ALJ mischaracterized, and improperly relied upon, her ability to perform activities of daily living in finding her allegations “not entirely consistent.”[3] See Pl.'s Br. at 3-8.

         IV. Stand ...


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