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Bonneye v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 29, 2019

EDWARD D. BONNEYE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Edward D. Bonneye, 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. 13], and both parties have briefed their positions.[1] For the reasons stated below, the Court reverses the Commissioner's decision and remands the matter for further proceedings.

         I. Procedural Background

         On March 16, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to SSI. AR 17-29. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at 1-8. 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. § 416.920. Following this process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 26, 2016, his application date. AR 19.

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff suffers from severe obesity, diabetes with peripheral neuropathy, and left knee degenerative change, but, at step three, his 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 19-20.

         The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC), concluding that he can perform sedentary work with exertional limitations. Id. at 22. Then, at steps four and five respectively, the ALJ determined Plaintiff cannot perform his past relevant work but can perform work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. Id. at 27-29. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. Id. at 29.

         III. Claim Presented for Judicial Review

         Although presented as two separate claims, Plaintiff's overriding argument is that the ALJ erred in failing to incorporate any reaching limitations into the RFC. See Pl.'s Br. at 1-11. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ ignored the reaching limitations supported by the consultative examiner's finding that Plaintiff has “decreased right shoulder abduction of 90 degrees when 150 degrees is considered within normal limits” and “right shoulder forward elevation was decreased to 90 degrees instead of 150 degrees.” Id. at 7.

         While mindful of the Commissioner's arguments, which the Court finds are substantially justified, the Court ultimately agrees with Plaintiff.

         IV. Standard of Review

         Judicial 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); see also Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008) (holding that the court only reviews an ALJ's decision “to determine whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record and whether the correct legal standards were applied” and in that review, “we neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute our judgment for that of the agency” (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)).

         V. ...


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