United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CYNTHIA L. HUTTON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Cynthia L. Hutton brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying Plaintiff's application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-434. The Court has reviewed the administrative record
(Doc. No. 12, hereinafter “R. ”),  and the arguments
and authorities submitted by the parties. The
Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for
further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. A separate
judgment will be entered.
History and Administrative Decision
protectively filed her DIB application on June 7, 2015,
alleging disability beginning on January 6, 2015. R. 15,
289-96. The SSA denied her application initially and on
reconsideration. R. 186-216, 219-23. At Plaintiff's
request, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) held
a hearing on January 19, 2017, R. 152-80, after which the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on June 1, 2017. R. 12-29. The
SSA Appeals Council found no reason to review the ALJ's
decision, R. 1-7, which now stands as the Commissioner's
final decision. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981.
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process in
determing Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits.
See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir.
2009); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step one, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since her alleged disability-onset date. R. 17. At
step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following
obesity, degenerative disc disease status post surgical
repair, left shoulder injury status post November 2016
surgical repair, obstructive sleep apnea, osteoarthritis,
carpal tunnel syndrome status post surgical repair, and
17-18. The ALJ found the alleged fibromyalgia and stroke with
memory loss are not medically determinable impairments and
that Plaintiff's tinnitus and mental impairments are not
severe. R. 17-19.
three, the ALJ found Plaintiff does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of any of the presumptively disabling impairments
listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R.
next assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) during the relevant period, based on all
her medically determinable impairments:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the [RFC] to lift and
carry ten pounds occasionally and less than ten pounds
frequently. The claimant can sit for about six hours during
an eight-hour workday and can stand and walk for at least two
hours during an eight-hour workday. The claimant can
occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
The claimant can occasionally reach overhead. The claimant
can frequently handle and finger.
on the hearing testimony of a vocational expert
(“VE”), the ALJ determined at step four that
Plaintiff can perform her past relevant work as a
customer-service representative-a sedentary, semiskilled job
with an SVP of 4. R. 28. Thus, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
is not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act. R. 29; see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv),
Court's judicial review of the Commissioner's final
decision is limited to determining whether factual findings
are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole and whether correct legal standards were applied.
Poppa v. Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir.
2009). “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is
a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it.” Branum
v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court
“meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, ”
including any evidence “that may undercut or detract
from the ALJ's findings, ” in determining whether
the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence.
Wall, 561 F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation marks
omitted). Though a reviewing ...