United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. ERWIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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 denying Plaintiff's
applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income under the Social Security Act.
The Commissioner has answered and filed a transcript of the
administrative record (hereinafter TR.___). The parties have
consented to jurisdiction over this matter by a United States
magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
parties have briefed their positions, and the matter is now
at issue. Based on the Court's review of the record and
the issues presented, the Court REVERSES AND
REMANDS the Commissioner's decision.
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
(SSA) denied Plaintiff's applications for benefits.
Following an administrative hearing, an Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 12-25). The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
(TR. 1-3). Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the final
decision of the Commissioner.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process required
by agency regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart,
431 F.3d 729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005); 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920. At step one, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had engaged in substantial gainful activity during
certain periods, but had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity during a continuous 12-month period. The ALJ
considered only the periods during which Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity. (TR. 15). At step
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: amputated great toe on the right foot,
diabetes mellitus, arthropathies, chronic lymphocytic
leukemia, obesity, depression, and anxiety. (TR. 15). At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not
meet or medically equal any of the presumptively disabling
impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1. (TR. 16).
four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work with
specified additional mental abilities and limitations, but
finding “no other physical or mental limitations or
restrictions.” (TR. 18). Applying SSA policy, the ALJ
made no finding regarding Plaintiff's past relevant work.
then proceeded to make findings at step five. The ALJ
consulted with a vocational expert (VE) to determine whether
there were other jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. Given the limitations presented by the ALJ,
the VE identified seven sedentary, unskilled jobs from the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). (TR. 23-24). Relying
upon the testimony of the VE, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not disabled based on his ability to perform
the identified jobs. (TR. 24).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews the Commissioner's final “decision to
determin[e] whether the factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record and whether the correct
legal standards were applied.” Wilson v.
Astrue, 602 F.3d 1136, 1140 (10th Cir. 2010). Under the
“substantial evidence” standard, a court looks to
an existing administrative record and asks whether it
contains “sufficient evidence” to support the
agency's factual determinations. Biestek v.
Berryhill, -- U.S. --, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019)
(internal citation, alteration, and quotation marks omitted).
“Substantial evidence . . . is more than a mere
scintilla . . . and means only-such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted).
the court considers whether the ALJ followed the applicable
rules of law in weighing particular types of evidence in
disability cases, the court will “neither reweigh the
evidence nor substitute [its] judgment for that of the
agency.” Vigil v. Colvin, 805 F.3d 1199, 1201
(10th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted).
appeal, Plaintiff alleges the ALJ (1) improperly considered
the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, and (2)
failed to properly consider ...