United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Johnny Berry, seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's (SSA) denial of his application for
disability insurance benefits (DIB). United States District
Judge Joe Heaton has referred the matter for proposed
findings and recommendations. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 636(b)(1)(B), 636(B)(3); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The
Commissioner has filed the Administrative Record (AR) [Doc.
No. 11], and both parties have briefed their
positions. For the reasons set forth below, it is
recommended that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed.
April 9, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to DIB. AR 15-25. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at
1-7. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision constitutes the
Commissioner's final decision. See Krauser v.
Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff
timely commenced this action for judicial review.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required
by agency regulations. See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d
1048, 1051 (10th Cir. 2009) (explaining process); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Following this process,
the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since August 14, 2014, his
alleged onset date. AR 17.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, degenerative
joint disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, slight kidney
damage, and obesity. Id. at 18. At step three, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or
medically equal any of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Id. at 18.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC), concluding that Plaintiff could perform sedentary work
as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a) with the following
[Plaintiff] can lift, carry, push and pull no more than 10
pounds occasionally; he can sit, in whatever increments he
wishes, for not to exceed 6 hours in a day[;] stand, in
whatever increments he wishes, for not to exceed 4 hours in a
day[;] and walk, in whatever increments he wishes, for not to
exceed 4 hours in a day. [Plaintiff] can frequently crouch,
kneel, crawl, and stoop; he can frequently climb ramps and
stairs, and can occasionally climb scaffolds and ladders.
Id. at 18-23.
four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff is unable to perform any
past relevant work and that transferability of job skills is
not a material issue. Id. at 23-24. The ALJ then
proceeded to step five and, relying on the testimony of a
vocational expert (VE), found Plaintiff can perform work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
Id. at 24. Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff can
perform the requirements of representative jobs such as food
and beverage order clerk, information clerk, and call out
clerk. Id. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security
Act. Id. at 25.
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
brings four allegations of error, asserting that the ALJ
failed to: (1) properly consider Plaintiff's obesity; (2)
properly evaluate the opinion evidence; (3) include proper
vocational limitations in the RFC; and (4) consider the
cumulative effect of Plaintiff's impairments. Pl.'s
Br. [Doc. No. 16] at 7-21. For the reasons set forth below,
the undersigned finds no grounds for reversal.
Standard of Review
review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Poppa v.
Astrue, 569 F.3d 1167, 1169 (10th Cir. 2009); see
also Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272 (10th Cir.
2008) (holding that the court only reviews an ALJ's
decision “to determine whether the factual findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record and whether
the correct legal standards were applied” and in that
review, “we neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute
our judgment for that of the agency” (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted)). Under such review,
“common sense, not technical perfection, is [the
Court's] guide.” Keyes-Zachary v. Astrue,
695 F.3d 1156, 1167 (10th Cir. 2012).