United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIE EARL C., seeks judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
Social Security disability benefits. In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to
proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.
role of the court in reviewing the decision of the
Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a
determination of whether the decision is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the decision contains a
sufficient basis to determine that the Commissioner has
applied the correct legal standards. See Briggs ex rel.
Briggs v. Massanari, 12');">12');">12');">1235');">248 F.3d 12');">12');">12');">1235, 12');">12');">12');">1237 (10th Cir.
2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir.
1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 1420');">91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28
L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court may neither
reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 993 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even
if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 1495');">961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 43 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 47 years old on the date of the denial decision. He has a
high school education and past relevant work includes an
electrician. [R. 21]. Plaintiff claims to have been unable to
work since December 20, 2013 due to nerve damage in each arm;
big knot on left wrist; screws, steel, and metal in neck and
back; high blood pressure, high cholesterol; severe pain; six
spurs in back; back fusion six times; degenerative disc
disease; and unable to turn neck from side to side. [R. 178].
determined that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease;
obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome, and paroxysmal
supraventricular tachycardia. [R. 19]. The ALJ determined
that the Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work in that Plaintiff is able to lift,
carry, push or pull up to 5 pounds frequently and 10 pounds
occasionally. He is able to sit for up to 6 hours in an
8-hour workday; able to stand and/or walk up to 2 hours in an
8-hour workday. Plaintiff should have the option to stand for
10 minutes after 30 minutes of sitting without leaving the
workstation. The job should not require standing or walking
for more than 20 minutes consecutively. Plaintiff should have
the option to use a cane to ambulate. Plaintiff is able to
occasionally climb ramps or stairs, and occasionally stoop.
Plaintiff should never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds,
and he should not kneel, crouch, or crawl. Plaintiff is able
to frequently reach, handle, or finger. The job should
provide regular breaks every 2 hours. [R. 20]. The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform his past
relevant work, however, based on the testimony of the
vocational expert, there are a significant number of jobs in
the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. [R.
26-27]. Accordingly, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not
disabled. The case was thus decided at step five of the
five-step evaluative sequence for determining whether a
claimant is disabled. See Williams v. Bowen, 844
F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in
asserts that the ALJ: 1) failed to properly develop the
record; 2) the RFC assessment is erroneous; 3) credibility
findings are not supported by substantial evidence; 4) erred
in failing to develop vocational expert witness testimony;
and 5) the decision in this case was rendered by an
Administrative Law Judge whose appointment was invalid at the
time she rendered her decision. [Dkt. 12');">12');">12');">12, p. 3].
of the Record Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred in
failing to incorporate and consider the extensive evidence
from the Plaintiff's first two Applications. [Dkt. 12');">12');">12');">12, p.
4]. The ALJ specifically addressed the evidence in the case
at the hearing:
ALJ: Do you have any objection to any of the documents marked
as exhibits in this case?
ATTY: I have no objection.
ALJ: Do you have any additional evidence to submit either at
this time ...