United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
David Brou, seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's denial of supplemental security income
(SSI) benefits. This matter has been referred by United
States District Judge Robin J. Cauthron for proposed findings
and recommendations. See 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(B), 636(b)(3). The Commissioner filed the
Administrative Record (AR), [Doc. No. 11], and both parties
briefed their respective positions. For the reasons set forth
below, it is recommended that the Commissioner's decision
September 2, 2016, Plaintiff protectively filed an
application for SSI. See AR 12. The Social Security
Administration (SSA) denied the application initially and on
reconsideration. AR 128, 139. Following a hearing, an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision
dated February 2, 2018. AR 12-26. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. AR 1-6. Thus, the
decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the
Commissioner. Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d
1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff seeks judicial review
of this final agency decision.
The ALJ's Decision
followed the sequential evaluation process required by agency
regulations. See Fischer-Ross v. Barnhart, 431 F.3d
729, 731 (10th Cir. 2005) (explaining five-step sequential
evaluation process); see also 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920. The ALJ first determined Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 2,
2016, the application date. AR 14.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the severe
impairment of an affective disorder. Id. At step
three, the ALJ found Plaintiff's impairment does not meet
or medically equal any of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. AR 15-16.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform a
full range of work at all exertional levels but with the
following non-exertional limitations: [Plaintiff] is limited
to performing simple, routine tasks; [Plaintiff] can have
occasional contact with supervisors; occasional contact with
coworkers and never have contact with the public.
AR 16-20. The ALJ then found Plaintiff could perform past
relevant work as a stocker and mail clerk. AR 20. The ALJ
made alternative findings at Step Five. Id. First,
the ALJ found that the Medical-Vocational Rules supported
finding that Plaintiff was not disabled whether or not
Plaintiff had transferable job skills. Id.
Alternatively, and relying on the testimony of a vocational
expert, the ALJ found there were other jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform-packager-hand, laborer-salvager, and industrial
sweeper. AR 20-21. The ALJ concluded, therefore, that
Plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of the Social
Security Act. AR 21-22.
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).
Substantial evidence “means-and means only-such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Biestek v.
Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019). A decision is
not based on substantial evidence if it is overwhelmed by
other evidence in the record or if there is a mere scintilla
of evidence supporting it. Branum v. Barnhart, 385
F.3d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir. 2004). The court
“meticulously examine[s] the record as a whole,
including anything that may undercut or detract from the
ALJ's findings in order to determine if the
substantiality test has been met.” Wall v.
Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted). While the court considers whether the ALJ followed
the applicable rules of law in weighing particular types of
evidence in disability cases, the court does not reweigh the
evidence or substitute its own judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Bowman v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 1270, 1272
(10th Cir. 2008) (quotations and citations omitted).
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
contends the ALJ did not properly consider all of his mental
impairments and limitations. Plaintiff also argues the ALJ
failed to conduct a ...