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Desai v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

October 7, 2019

PRAVINA DESAI, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Pravina Desai, seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits (DIB). United States District Judge Stephen P. Friot has referred the matter for proposed findings and recommendations. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative Record (AR), [Doc. No. 9], and both parties have briefed their positions.[1] For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the Commissioner's decision be reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

         I. Procedural Background

         On October 27, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to DIB. AR 12-31. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at 1-6. 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.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ followed the multi-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. The ALJ first determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirement through September 30, 2019 and has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 20, 2013, her alleged onset date. AR 14.

         At steps two and three, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from severe “lumbar degenerative disc disease, status post laminectomy and fragment removal, scoliosis, recalcitrant plantar fasciitis on the right side, osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, gastroparesis, anxiety and depression” but that her impairments do not meet or medically equal any of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Id.

         The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC), concluding, in relevant part, she can perform sedentary work with exertional and non-exertional limitations and can “perform simple and some complex tasks.” Id. at 16. Finally, at step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff can perform her past relevant work as a claim processor, Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) 241.362-010, and is therefore not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. See id. at 30.

         III. Claim Presented for Judicial Review

         According to Plaintiff, her past relevant work as a claim processor requires a reasoning level of four, which is inconsistent with her ability to perform only “simple and some complex tasks.” Pl.'s Br. at 3-5.

         IV. Standard of Review

         Judicial 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).

         V. Analysis

         A vocational expert (VE) described Plaintiff's past work as a claim processor as requiring a “SVP of 4, ” AR 58, which is how it is described in the DOT. See DOT 241.362-010, 1991 WL 672250. Plaintiff argues this reasoning level is inconsistent with her ability to perform only ...


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