United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
P. SHREDER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Lorraine Elizabeth Sarich requests judicial review
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
her application for benefits under the Social Security Act.
She appeals the decision of the Commissioner and asserts that
the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining she 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 h[er] physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that [s]he is not only
unable to do h[er] previous work but cannot, considering
h[er] age, education, and work experience, engage in any
other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the
national economy[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 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.
review of the Commissioner's determination is limited in
scope by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court's review is
limited to two inquiries: (1) whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997) [citation
omitted]. The term “substantial evidence”
requires “‘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). However, the Court may not reweigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. See
Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 933
F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, 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 800-01.
claimant was fifty years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 33, 253). She completed high
school and two years of college and has worked as a real
estate agent (Tr. 23, 281). The claimant alleges she has been
unable to work since an amended onset date of May 30, 2013,
due to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and
seasonal adjustment disorder (Tr. 280).
April 30, 2013, the claimant applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and for supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 1381-85. Her applications were denied.
ALJ James Bentley conducted an administrative hearing and
determined that the claimant was not disabled in a written
decision dated June 8, 2017 (Tr. 15-25). The Appeals Council
denied review, so the ALJ's decision represents the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this
appeal. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981,
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 light work as defined
in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), with
the additional limitations of avoiding unprotected heights
and moving machinery; the inability to climb ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds; and the inability to perform frequent
overhead reaching with the right shoulder. Finally, he
determined that she could understand, remember, and apply
simple instructions with adequate pace and persistence to
successfully complete simple tasks with routine supervision,
that she could have occasional interaction with co-workers
and supervisors but not work-related contact with the public,
and that she required a work environment with no strict
production quotas such as assembly line work (Tr. 21). The
ALJ thus concluded that although the claimant could not
return to her past relevant work, she was nevertheless not
disabled because there was work she could perform, e.
g., housekeeper/cleaner, bottling line attendant, and
conveyor-line bakery worker (Tr. 24).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to identify
jobs at step five that were consistent with the assigned RFC.
The undersigned Magistrate Judge finds this contention
unpersuasive for the following reasons.
determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of
depression, anxiety disorder, personality disorder with
cluster B traits, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and
differential diagnosis of seizures (Tr. 18). At the
administrative hearing, the ALJ elicited testimony from a
vocational expert (“VE”) to determine if the
claimant could perform her past relevant work or if there
were other jobs the claimant could perform with her
limitations. He posed a series of hypothetical questions
requiring the VE to assume various limitations and ...