United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Travis Denning brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying Plaintiff’s application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-434. Upon review of the administrative record (Doc. No.
11, hereinafter “R. ”),  and the arguments and
authorities submitted by the parties, the Court affirms the
protectively filed his DIB application on October 15, 2015,
alleging a disability onset date of January 12, 2015. R. 13,
178-79. After his request was denied initially and on
reconsideration, R. 13, 56-67, 68-84, a video hearing was
held before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
on August 24, 2017. R. 28-55. In addition to Plaintiff, a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified at the
hearing. R. 49-54. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
November 17, 2017. R. 10-27.
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine entitlement to disability benefits. See Wall
v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step one, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since January 12, 2015, the alleged disability onset date. R.
15. At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and
left shoulder degenerative joint disease status post rotator
cuff. R. 15-16. The ALJ additionally found that
Plaintiff’s headaches, essential hypertension, chronic
pain syndrome, and tinea versicolor were nonsevere. R. 16. At
step three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s
condition did not meet or equal any of the presumptively
disabling impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. R. 16.
next assessed Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all of his medically
determinable impairments. R. 16-19. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the RFC to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
[Plaintiff] can stand or walk up to four hours and sit about
six hours in an eight-hour workday. [Plaintiff] can
frequently balance and occasionally climb, stoop, kneel,
crouch, crawl, and he can do overhead reaching bilaterally.
R. 16. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable
to perform any past relevant work. R. 19.
five, the ALJ considered whether there are jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff-in
view of his age, education, work experience, and RFC-could
perform. R. 20-21. Relying upon the VE’s testimony
regarding the degree of erosion to the unskilled light
occupational base caused by Plaintiff’s additional
limitations, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could perform
light occupations such as cashier II and small product
assembler, and that such occupations offer jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy. R. 20-21.
Therefore, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not been
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act during
the relevant time period. R. 21.
request for review by the SSA Appeals Council was denied, and
the unfavorable decision of the ALJ stands as the
Commissioner’s final decision. R. 1-6; see 20
C.F.R. § 404.981.
Court’s judicial review of the Commissioner’s
final decision is limited to determining whether factual
findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record
as a whole and whether correct legal standards were applied.
Poppa v. Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir.
2009). “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Doyal v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 758,
760 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“A decision is not based on substantial evidence if it
is overwhelmed by other evidence in the record or if there is
a mere scintilla of evidence supporting it.” Branum
v. Barnhart, 385 F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court
“meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole, ”
including any evidence “that may undercut or detract
from the ALJ’s findings, ” in determining whether
the ALJ’s decision is supported by substantial
evidence. Wall, 561 F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation
marks omitted). Though a reviewing ...