United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
RUSSELL W. CHEATER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russell W. Cheater (the “Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying his 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 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. §
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 43 years old at the time of the ALJ's latest
decision. Claimant completed high school. He has worked in
the past as a forklift operator. He alleges an inability to
work beginning May 1, 2008, due to limitations from heart
problems, breathing problems, chest pains, chronic headaches,
depression, anxiety, and problems concentrating.
20, 2009, Claimant filed for a period of disability and
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. After a hearing, an ALJ issued a decision
denying benefits to Claimant on January 6, 2011. The Appeals
Council denied review, and Claimant appealed the denial of
benefits to this Court. On September 26, 2013, the case was
remanded. A second hearing was held, and on October 3, 2014,
another ALJ issued a decision denying benefits to Claimant.
Claimant again appealed the ALJ's decision, and the case
was remanded for a second time on April 7, 2016. On September
14, 2017, Administrative Law Judge(“ALJ”) Luke
Liter conducted an administrative hearing by video. Claimant
appeared in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and the ALJ presided from
Tulsa, Oklahoma. On November 1, 2017, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision. The decision of the ALJ represents the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of further
review. 20 C.F.R. § 404.984.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
sedentary work, with limitations.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error by (1) failing to find
Claimant's impairments met or equaled a listing; (2)
failing to reach a proper RFC determination (with subparts to
the issue); and (3) failing to make findings at step five
which are supported by the evidence.
of a Listing
decision, the ALJ found Claimant suffered from severe
impairments of obesity, hypertension, congestive heart
failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, angina, and cardiomyopathy. (Tr. 865). He determined
Claimant had the RFC to perform sedentary work with
additional limitations. In so doing, the ALJ found Claimant
was able to lift or carry and push or pull ten pounds
occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently. He had no
limitations for sitting during an eight-hour day, but he
could only stand or walk a combined total of two hours out of
an eight-hour day, and only for ten to thirty minutes at one
time. Claimant could occasionally climb ramps or stairs, but
he was to avoid climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He
could occasionally balance, kneel, stoop, crouch, and crawl.
Claimant could not tolerate exposure to hazards, including
unprotected heights, sharp objects, or dangerous moving
machinery. He also was to avoid exposure to humidity,
wetness, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, pulmonary irritants, and
exposure to temperature extremes (both hot and cold). (Tr.
consultation with a vocational expert (“VE”), the
ALJ determined Claimant could perform the representative jobs
of document preparer, food and beverage order clerk, and
clerical mailer, all of which were found to exist in
sufficient numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 877,
924-26). As a result, the ALJ concluded Claimant was not