United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
CATHY L. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Kimberly E. West United States Magistrate Judge
Cathy L. Thomas (the “Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
application for disability benefits under the Social Security
Act. Claimant appeals the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and asserts that the Commissioner
erred because the ALJ incorrectly determined that Claimant
was not disabled. For the reasons discussed below, it is the
recommendation of the undersigned that the Commissioner's
decision 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. . .” 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: first, whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence; and, second, whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Hawkins v.
Chater, 113 F.3d 1162, 1164 (10th Cir. 1997)(citation
omitted). The term “substantial evidence” has
been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to
require “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)). The court may not re-weigh the evidence nor
substitute its discretion for that of the agency. Casias
v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799,
800 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, the court must review the
record as a whole, and the “substantiality of the
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.
was 59 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.
Claimant completed her high school education and obtained a
degree in elementary education. Claimant worked in the past
as a supervisor of cashiers, greeters, cart pushers, and the
service desk for Walmart. Claimant alleges an inability to
work beginning December 13, 2013 due to limitations resulting
from irritable bowel syndrome and overactive bladder.
January 7, 2014, Claimant protectively filed for disability
insurance benefits under Title II (42 U.S.C. § 401,
et seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On
April 21, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Richard Kallsnick conducted an administrative hearing by
video with Claimant appearing in Fort Smith, Arkansas and the
ALJ presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. On May 8, 2015, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision. On August 12, 2015, the
Appeals Council granted review and remanded the case for the
ALJ to consider additional evidence. A second video hearing
was held on April 5, 2017 before ALJ B.D. Crutchfield. On May
9, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision. On January
4, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review. As a result, the
decision of the ALJ represents the Commissioner's final
decision for purposes of further appeal. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step four of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, she retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform her past relevant work. In the
RFC evaluation, the ALJ determined Claimant could perform a
full range of medium work.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) reaching an improper
RFC; and (2) finding Claimant could perform her past relevant