United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Cheryl Scott 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 applications
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.
10, hereinafter “R. ___”),  and the arguments
and authorities submitted by the parties, the Court reverses
the Commissioner’s decision and remands for further
History and Administrative Decision
protectively filed her DIB application on June 26, 2015,
alleging disability beginning December 18, 2014. R. 48,
185-86. The SSA denied her application initially and on
reconsideration. R. 84-109. At Plaintiff’s request, an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing
on December 21, 2016, after which the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on June 1, 2017. R. 45-64, 68-81.
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 December 18, 2014, the alleged disability-onset date.
R. 50. At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
severe impairments of fibromyalgia, obesity, and diabetes
mellitus onset September 2014. R. 50-54. The ALJ also found
that Plaintiff’s mental impairments of anxiety and
depression were nonsevere in nature. R. 54-56. At step three,
the ALJ found 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. 57.
next assessed Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all her medically determinable
impairments. R. 58-59. The ALJ found:
[Plaintiff] has the [RFC] to perform light work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(b) except with nonexertional limitations.
[Plaintiff] can: lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently; walk/stand up to 6 of 8 hours with normal
breaks; and sit for up to 6 of 8 hours. [Plaintiff] can never
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds and can only occasionally
climb ramps/stairs. She can occasionally balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can do no more than frequent
four, the ALJ considered the hearing testimony of a
vocational expert (“VE”) and found that Plaintiff
was able to perform her past relevant work as a vocational
instructor. R. 60. The ALJ therefore determined that
Plaintiff had not been disabled within the meaning of the
Social Security Act during the relevant time period. R. 60;
see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), (f),
.1560(b)(3). Plaintiff’s request for review by the SSA
Appeals Council was denied, and the unfavorable determination
of the ALJ stands as the Commissioner’s final decision.
R. 1-6; see 20 C.F.R. § 404.981.
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, ” “to determine if
the substantiality test has been met.” Wall,
561 F.3d at 1052 (internal quotation marks omitted). While 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).
action, Plaintiff complains that the ALJ failed to properly
evaluate a medical opinion regarding Plaintiff’s mental
limitations and that this failure resulted in an RFC
determination and a step-four finding that are not supported
by substantial evidence. See Pl.’s Br. (Doc.
No. 13) at 3-9. The Court agrees. A. The Relevant
Record In August 2015, Plaintiff complained to her
physician of stress, along with her ongoing physical
complaints related to fibromyalgia and diabetes mellitus, and
was prescribed an antidepressant medication. R. 335-37.
October 15, 2015, Plaintiff was examined by Stephanie Crall,
PhD. Dr. Crall then issued a consultative examination report
(“CE Report”). R. 495-98 (Ex. 6F). In this
report, Dr. Crall noted multiple normal findings but also
diagnosed Plaintiff with Major Depressive ...