United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Steven Denman 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
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
1381-1383f. Upon review of the administrative record (Doc.
No. 11, hereinafter “R. ”), and the arguments and
authorities submitted by the parties, the Court affirms the
History and Administrative Decision
filed his SSI application on October 6, 2015, alleging that
his disability began on that same date. R. 11, 165-73.
Following denial of his application initially and on
reconsideration, a hearing was held before an administrative
law judge (“ALJ”) on November 7, 2016. R. 25-42,
43-51, 52-61. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
August 4, 2017. R. 8-24.
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine entitlement to disability benefits. See Wall
v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009); 20
C.F.R. § 416.920. At step one, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since he had filed his application on October 6, 2015. R. 13.
At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the severe
impairments of: major depressive disorder, panic disorder,
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. R. 13-14. At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's condition did not
meet or equal 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”) based on all of his medically
determinable impairments. R. 16-17. The ALJ found:
[Plaintiff] has the [RFC] to perform a full range of work at
all exertional levels, but with the following nonexertional
limitations: [Plaintiff] can understand, remember, and carry
out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. [Plaintiff] can
relate to supervisors and co-workers on a superficial work
basis. [Plaintiff] can have no contact with the general
public. [Plaintiff] can respond to usual work situations.
At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had no past
relevant work. R. 17.
five, the ALJ considered whether there are jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff-in
view of his age, education, work experience, and RFC-could
perform. R. 18-19. Relying upon the testimony provided by a
vocational expert (“VE”) regarding the degree of
erosion to the unskilled occupational base caused by
Plaintiff's additional limitations, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff could perform unskilled occupations such as
machine feeder, film touch-up screener, or sorter, and that
such occupations offer jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy. R. 18-19.
therefore concluded that Plaintiff had not been disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act during the
relevant period. R. 19. Plaintiff's request for review by
the SSA Appeals Council was denied, and the ALJ's
unfavorable decision stands as the Commissioner's final
decision. See R. 1-5; 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
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 court considers whether the
Commissioner followed applicable rules of law in weighing
particular types of evidence in disability cases, the court
does not reweigh the evidence or substitute its own judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511
F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008).
action, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ improperly evaluated
Plaintiff's subjective complaints, ignored a third-party
function report, and misstated Plaintiff's GAF ...