United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, United States District Judge.
Daniel James Driehorst 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 under Title II
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434.
Having reviewed the administrative record (Doc. No. 13,
hereinafter “R. ”),  and the arguments and
authorities submitted by the parties, the Court reverses the
Commissioner’s decision and remands the matter for
HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
protectively filed his DIB application on March 24, 2015,
alleging a disability-onset date of April 10, 2010. R. 12,
191-97. After his request was denied initially and on
reconsideration, R. 12, 97-123, 128-32, a hearing was held
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). R.
30-96. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 16,
2017. R. 12-24.
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process in
determining Plaintiff was not entitled 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 from July 23, 2011 (the day after denial of
a previous DIB application filed by Plaintiff) through
December 31, 2015 (the date Plaintiff’s insured status
expired). R. 14; see Hodges v. Colvin, 568 F.
App’x 639, 640 n.1 (10th Cir. 2014) (noting that
“the relevant period for assessing disability”
commenced “the day after the adjudication on the prior
application” and ended on the date the claimant
“was last insured for disability purposes”). At
step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the severe
impairments of: degenerative disc disease and degenerative
joint disease of the shoulders, knees, and right hip; and
status-post right-hip replacement and left-knee meniscus
repair. R. 14-17.
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of any of the presumptively
disabling impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. R. 17-18.
next assessed Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) during the relevant period, based on all
of his medically determinable impairments, and found that
during the relevant disability period:
[Plaintiff] had the [RFC] to perform light exertion work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), except with his left upper
extremity [Plaintiff] could occasionally reach overhead; with
his left upper extremity [Plaintiff] could perform unlimited
reaching in all other directions (except overhead); with his
right upper extremity, [Plaintiff] could perform unlimited
reaching in all directions (including overhead reaching);
[Plaintiff] had no other physical limitations or
restrictions; [Plaintiff] had no mental limitations or
four, the ALJ considered the hearing testimony of a
vocational expert and found that Plaintiff could perform his
past relevant work as a furniture salesperson and as a
household-appliances salesperson, as those jobs are generally
performed in the national economy. R. 23-24. Thus, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had not been disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act during the relevant
period. R. 24. The SSA Appeals Council denied review, R. 1-5,
and the ALJ’s unfavorable determination stands as the
Commissioner’s final decision. See 20 C.F.R.
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 court considers whether
the Commissioner followed applicable rules of law in weighing
particular types of evidence in disability cases, the court
does not reweigh the evidence or substitute its own judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511
F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008).
The ALJ’s Evaluation of Plaintiff’s ...