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Cross v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

November 4, 2019

BARBARA CROSS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Barbara Cross, seeks judicial review of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) denial of her application for supplemental security income (SSI). The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this matter by a United States Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The Commissioner has filed the Administrative Record (AR) [Doc. No. 11], and both parties have briefed their positions.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court reverses the Commissioner's decision and remands the matter for further proceedings.

         I. Procedural Background

         On February 13, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to SSI. AR 15-23. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR 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 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. § 416.920. Following this process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 26, 2016, her application date. AR 17.

         At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, arthritis, and bilateral shoulder disorders. Id. at 17-18. 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 18-19.

         The ALJ next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC), concluding that:

[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently. [Plaintiff] can sit for about six hours during an eight-hour workday and can stand and walk for about six hours during an eight-hour workday. [Plaintiff] can frequently climb ramps/stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. [Plaintiff] can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. [Plaintiff] can occasionally reach overhead.

Id. at 19-22; see also 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(c) (defining medium work).

         At step four, relying on a vocational expert's (VE) testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff is capable of performing her past relevant work as a courier and caregiver. Id. at 22-23. Based upon this finding, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act. Id. at 23.

         III. Claims Presented for Judicial Review

         Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in failing to properly evaluate: (1) Plaintiff's ability to afford medication and (2) medical evidence. Pl.'s Br. [Doc. No. 22] at 8-13, 13-23. As explained below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's arguments warrant reversal.

         IV. Stand ...


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