United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
CHARLES B. GOODWIN United States District Judge.
Bradley Moore 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
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act, id. §§
1381-1383f. Upon review of the administrative record (Doc.
No. 11, hereinafter “R. ”),  and the arguments
and authorities submitted by the parties, the Court affirms
the Commissioner’s decision.
filed his SSI application on March 4, 2012, ultimately
alleging a disability onset date of March 4, 2012. R. 28, 48,
110, 368. Following denial of his application initially and
on reconsideration, a hearing was held before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on September 10,
2013. R. 26-47, 54-57, 63-64. In addition to Plaintiff, a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified at the
hearing. R. 44-47. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
November 27, 2013, and the SSA Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff’s request for review. R. 1-4, 5-22.
appealed the Commissioner’s decision to this Court, and
on May 26, 2016, this Court reversed the Commissioner’s
decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. R.
442, 443-55. On remand, a hearing was conducted before the
ALJ on May 2, 2017. R. 395-410. Plaintiff appeared at the
hearing, along with a vocational expert. R. 404-10. The ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on October 19, 2015. R.
365-87. The SSA Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s
request for review, making the ALJ’s unfavorable
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. R. 360-64;
see 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. This action for
judicial review followed.
relevant here, the 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. § 416.920. At step one, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since March 4, 2012. R. 370. At step two,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease, obesity, benign
positional vertigo, depressive disorder NOS, and anxiety
disorder NOS. R. 371. 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. 371-73.
next assessed Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) based on all of his medically
determinable impairments (“MDIs”). R. 373-85. The
ALJ found that Plaintiff has the RFC to
lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently. [Plaintiff] can sit for about 6 hours during an
eight-hour workday and can stand and walk for about 6 hours
during an eight-hour workday. [Plaintiff] can occasionally
climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. [Plaintiff]
is to avoid concentrated exposure to hazards, such as
unprotected heights and machinery. [Plaintiff] can
understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks. [Plaintiff] can respond appropriately to
supervisors and co-workers on a superficial work basis.
[Plaintiff] can have no contact with the general public.
[Plaintiff] can respond appropriately to usual work
R. 373. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable
to perform any past relevant work. R. 385.
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. 385-86. 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 office clerk, mail clerk, and
collator operator, and that such occupations offer jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy. R. 386.
Therefore, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not been
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act during
the relevant time period. R. 386.
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 argues that the ALJ (1) improperly
evaluated the medical opinion of Joe Shaleen, M.A., L.P.C.,
and (2) erroneously excluded functional limitations from the
RFC related to Plaintiff’s ...