United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
BENTLY J. FERLAND, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bently J. Ferland (the “Claimant”) requests
judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying Claimant's
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
finding of this Court that the Commissioner's decision
should be and is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED for
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 impairment or
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.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
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.
Claimant was 20 years old at the time of the ALJ's
decision. Claimant completed his high school education and
attended vocational-technical training for computer augmented
drafting and designing. Claimant has never been employed.
Claimant alleges an inability to work beginning September 22,
2003 due to limitations resulting from autism and learning
April 24, 2015, Claimant protectively filed for supplemental
security income pursuant to Title XVI (42 U.S.C. § 1381,
et seq.) of the Social Security Act. Claimant's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On
March 6, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Lantz McClain conducted an administrative hearing by video
with Claimant appearing in Muskogee, Oklahoma and the ALJ
presiding from Tulsa, Oklahoma. On April 28, 2017, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision. On April 9, 2018, the Appeals
Council denied review. As a result, the decision of the ALJ
represents the Commissioner's final decision for purposes
of further appeal. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
of the Administrative Law Judge
ALJ made his decision at step five of the sequential
evaluation. He determined that while Claimant suffered from
severe impairments, he retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work
at all exertional levels with non-exertional limitations.
Alleged for Review
Claimant asserts the ALJ committed error in (1) rejecting the
opinions of a psychologist; and (2) rejecting the opinions of
the reviewing state agency physicians regarding
Claimant's mental functioning limitations.
of the ...