United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Gregory Brown, seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's (SSA) denial of his application for
supplemental security income (SSI). 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. 12], and both parties have briefed
their positions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
affirms the Commissioner's decision.
March 27, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff is not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to SSI. AR 12-29. The Appeals Counsel
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.
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. § 416.920. The ALJ first determined
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since September 12, 2015, his amended alleged onset date. AR
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following
severe impairments: “lumbar spondylosis without
myelopathy; dysthymic disorder; mild mental retardation,
provisional; and, personality disorder.” Id.
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 19.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC), concluding that he:
[can] perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c)
except [he] can frequently lift/carry/push/pull 25 pounds,
and occasionally lift/carry/push/pull 50 pounds. [Plaintiff]
can sit for 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday and can
stand/walk 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday. [He] cannot
climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds. [He] can perform simple to
detailed tasks with routine supervision. [He] can have no
public contact. [He] can perform no customer service work.
[He] is able to relate to supervisors and co-workers on a
superficial work basis. [He] is able to adapt to work
Id. at 22-23.
four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had past relevant work as
an air conditioner assembler and that he could return to that
work as it is generally performed. Id. at 28.
Alternatively, the ALJ found, at step five, that Plaintiff
can also perform medium, unskilled work as a salvage laborer,
a hand launder, and as a meat clerk, work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy. Id. at
29. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not
disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act.
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
alleges that: (1) the ALJ failed to assign any specific
weight to two consultative examiners' opinions; (2) he
cannot perform his past relevant work; (3) the ALJ erred in
finding he had transferrable skills; and (4) the ALJ applied
the wrong “grid rule.” Pl.'s Br. at 6-13.
Standard of Review
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009). While the
Court considers whether the ALJ followed the applicable rules
of law in weighing particular types of evidence in disability
cases, it does not reweigh the evidence or substitute its own
judgment for that of the Commissioner. See Bowman v.
Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008) (quotations
and citations omitted). However, “it nevertheless may
be appropriate to supply a missing dispositive finding under
the rubric of harmless error in the right exceptional
circumstance, i.e., where based on the material the
administrative law judge did at least consider (just not
properly), we could confidently say that no reasonable
administrative factfinder, following the correct analysis,
could have resolved the factual matter in any other
way.” Allen v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1140, 1144
(10th Cir. 2004).
The ALJ's Failure to Assign any Weight to Two
Consultative Examiners' Opinions
part, Plaintiff seeks reversal on grounds that the ALJ failed
to specify what weight, if any, he gave to the opinions of
Dr. Brandon Brown, M.D., and Dr. R. Keith Green, Ph.D.
See Pl.'s Br. at 6-8. Relatedly, Plaintiff
believes the ALJ ignored Dr. Brown's finding that
Plaintiff had limited right and left knee flexion.
Id. at 7. The Court agrees that, generally, an ALJ
should make it “clear to any subsequent reviewers the
weight the adjudicator gave to the . . . medical opinion and
the reason for that weight.” Allman v. Colvin,
813 F.3d 1326, 1332 (10th Cir. 2016). However, any error here
Brown examined Plaintiff once, at the SSA's request. AR
382-88. In relevant part, Dr. Brown assessed Plaintiff ...