United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Alfred Lee Riley, seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Administration's denial of his applications for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) and 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. 17], and
both parties have briefed their positions. For the reasons
stated below, the Court reverses the Commissioner's
decision and remands the matter for further proceedings.
October 3, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff is not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to DIB or SSI. AR 12-20. The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
Id. at 1-6. 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.
The ALJ's Decision
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. Following
this process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements for DIB through June 30, 2017 and
has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 2,
2016, his alleged onset date. AR 14.
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff suffers from liver
disease, other unspecified arthropathies, an affective
disorder, and hepatitis C., 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 14-17.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC), concluding that he can perform medium work, except he
can only occasionally use his left upper extremity to reach
overhead, and is “limited to simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks with occasional interaction with
co-workers, supervisors, and the public.” Id.
at 16. Then, at step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could
not perform his past relevant work. Id. at 18.
Finally, the ALJ found, at step five, that Plaintiff can
perform work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy. Id. at 19. Therefore, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social
Security Act. Id. at 20.
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
presented as two separate claims, Plaintiff's overriding
argument is that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the
medical evidence because she failed to discuss some evidence,
relied selectively on other evidence, and did not properly
weigh the medical opinions. See Pl.'s Br. at 6-
15. For brevity, the Court reverses on grounds that the ALJ
failed to properly weigh the State agency opinions and does
not reach the merits on Plaintiff's remaining
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)).
Grounds for Reversal - the ALJ's Failure to Discuss or