United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
KIMBERLY E. WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
John Chance Green (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 AFFIRMED.
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 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. §
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.
was 52 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. He
has a limited education and worked in the past as a forklift
driver and a semi-truck driver. Claimant alleges an inability
to work beginning on October 2, 2012, due to limitations
resulting from right knee injury, right knee arthritis, gout,
back problems, migraine headaches, left eye amblyopia,
depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
October 5, 2012, Claimant protectively filed for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits under Title II
(42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq.) of the Social
Security Act. Claimant's application was denied initially
and upon reconsideration. On September 9, 2014, an
Administrative Law Judge(“ALJ”) entered an
unfavorable decision. Claimant appealed the matter, and the
case was remanded by United States Magistrate Judge Steven P.
Shreder on March 22, 2017. However, on September 23, 2015,
Claimant protectively filed another application for a period
of disability and for disability insurance benefits. He was
granted a closed period of disability from September 10, 2014
through March 17, 2016, by another ALJ on October 18, 2016.
On July 17, 2017, the Appeals Council remanded the case
pursuant to the district court's order. In its remand
order, the Appeals Council referenced the October 18, 2016
favorable decision wherein Claimant was found disabled for a
closed period, and noted the decision continued to be binding
unless the ALJ on remand determined the conditions for
reopening were met. It ordered the ALJ to offer Claimant the
opportunity for a new hearing, take any necessary action for
completion of the record, and issue a new decision. (Tr.
942-43). ALJ James Bentley conducted a hearing in McAlester,
Oklahoma, on December 21, 2017, at which Claimant appeared
and testified. On March 28, 2018, the ALJ entered a decision
wherein he reopened the decision awarding Claimant benefits
for a closed period of disability, considered the entire
period from Claimant's first date of eligibility, and
determined Claimant was not disabled. The decision of the ALJ
represents the Commissioner's final decision for purposes
of further review. 20 C.F.R. § 404.984.
of the Administrative Law Judge
made his decision at step five of the sequential evaluation.
He determined that while Claimant suffered from severe
impairments, he did not meet a listing and retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work, with limitations.
Alleged for Review
asserts the ALJ committed error by (1) failing to properly
consider the opinion of his treating physician Dr. Don
Barney, D.O.; and (2) failing to consider his strong work
history in the evaluation of symptoms.