United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Chad James Adams requests judicial review of a
denial of benefits by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). He
appeals the Commissioner's decision and asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining he was not disabled. For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision should be AFFIRMED.
Security Law and Standard of Review
under the Social Security Act is defined as the
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). A
claimant is disabled under the Social Security Act
“only if his physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable
to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy[.]” Id. § 423 (d)(2)(A). Social
security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
405(g) limits the scope of judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to two inquiries: whether the
decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997).
Substantial evidence is “‘more than a mere
scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971), quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938); see also Clifton v.
Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009 (10th Cir. 1996). The Court
may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its discretion for
the Commissioner's. See Casias v. Secretary of Health
& Human Services, 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir.
1991). But the Court must review the record as a whole, and
“[t]he substantiality of evidence must take into
account whatever in the record fairly detracts from its
weight.” Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340
U.S. 474, 488 (1951); see also Casias, 933 F.2d at
claimant was twenty-four years old at the time of the most
recent administrative hearing (Tr. 34, 52). He completed
eleventh grade and has no past relevant work (Tr. 44, 233).
The claimant alleges that he has been unable to work since
December 15, 2013, due to heat stroke, acute kidney failure,
tremors, dissociative disorder, high blood pressure, panic
attacks, reflux, and depression (Tr. 232).
March 18, 2014, the claimant applied for supplemental
security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85 (Tr. 15,
201-07). His application was denied. ALJ Kenton W. Fulton
held an administrative hearing and a supplemental hearing,
and determined that the claimant was not disabled in a
written opinion dated May 2, 2017 (Tr. 15-25). The Appeals
Council denied review, so the ALJ's written opinion
represents the Commissioner's final decision for purposes
of this appeal. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He found that the claimant had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at all
exertional levels, but must avoid exposure to dust, odors,
fumes, and pulmonary irritants; could perform simple and
detailed tasks and instructions; could have no public
interaction; and could have no more than occasional
interaction with coworkers and supervisors (Tr. 20). The ALJ
then concluded that the claimant was not disabled because
there was work that he could perform in the national economy,
e. g., dining room attendant, dishwasher, and floor
maintenance worker (Tr. 24-25).
claimant contends that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate
the opinion of consultative psychological examiner Julie S.
Wallace, Ph.D., which in turn, caused errors at step five
with respect to the jobs the vocational expert identified.
The undersigned Magistrate Judge finds these contentions do
not have merit, and the decision of the Commissioner should
therefore be affirmed.
found that the claimant had the severe impairments of anxiety
disorders, depression, borderline intellectual functioning,
and asthma; the nonsevere impairments of hypertension and
alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine dependence; and that
his alleged gastroparesis was not medically determinable (Tr.
17-18). The medical evidence relevant to the claimant's
mental impairments reflects that Dr. Erica Sun regularly
treated the claimant for depression and anxiety between
February 2012 and June 2013 and sporadically thereafter until
January 2017 (Tr. 514-71, 707-09, 721-23, 935-36, 945-46,
970-71). Dr. Sun consistently noted the claimant's mood
was euthymic and his affect was congruent (Tr. 514-71,
707-09, 935-36, 945-46, 970-71). At a follow-up appointment
in June 2013, the claimant indicated that his depression and
anxiety were under good control (Tr. 571). On September 24,
2014, the claimant presented to Dr. Sun for follow-up after
seeking emergent care for suicidal ideations and domestic
violence (Tr. 722). She noted the claimant's mood was
tearful and dysphoric and his affect was congruent (Tr.
722-23). At a follow-up appointment in June 2016, the
claimant rated his mood and anxiety at eight (with ten being
the best) and indicated that his medication helped him
“be more social and get out more” (Tr. 935). Dr.
Sun's mental status ...