United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SHREDER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
claimant Woody Olsen 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 the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in
determining he was not disabled. For the reasons set forth
below, the Commissioner's decision is hereby AFFIRMED.
Security Law and Standard of Review
Disability 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 fifty-one years old at the time of the
administrative hearing (Tr. 34). He has a high school
education and has worked as an electrician and chief
electrician (Tr. 34, 55). The claimant alleges that he has
been unable to work since May 16, 2015, due to degenerative
disc disease, depression, anxiety, arthritis, sciatic nerve
pain, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, and high
cholesterol (Tr. 254).
26, 2015, the claimant applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and on June 5, 2015, he applied for
supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-85 (Tr. 15,
200-12). His applications were denied. ALJ Lantz McClain
conducted an administrative hearing and determined that the
claimant was not disabled in a written opinion dated February
14, 2017 (Tr. 15-25). The Appeals Council denied review, so
the ALJ's written opinion represents the
Commissioners' 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), 416.967(b), except he
needed to avoid work above shoulder level (Tr. 19). The ALJ
further found the claimant could perform simple, repetitive
tasks, and relate to supervisors and co-workers
superficially, but could not work with the general public
(Tr. 19). The ALJ then concluded that although the claimant
could not return to his past relevant work, he was
nevertheless not disabled because there was work he could
perform in the national economy, e. g., mail room
clerk and laundry sorter (Tr. 23-24).
claimant contends that the ALJ erred by failing to: (i)
properly analyze the opinion of consultative examiner Dr.
Theresa Horton, and (ii) resolve a conflict between the
vocational expert's (“VE”) testimony and the
Dictionary of Occupation Titles (“DOT”). The
Court finds these contentions unpersuasive for the following
found the claimant had the severe impairments of status post
cervical spine surgery, degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar spine, dysthymia (mild depression), and anxiety, but
that his hypothyroidism, hypertension, and status post carpal
tunnel syndrome were nonsevere (Tr. 17-18). The relevant
medical evidence as to the claimant's mental impairments
reveals that primary care physician, Dr. Charles Jackson,
managed the claimant's medications for anxiety disorder
from October 2013 through July 2016 (Tr. 409, 556-592).
Primary care physician, Dr. Gloria Grim, treated the claimant
for depressive disorder in July 2016 and August 2016 and for
mood disorder in ...