United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
VATENYCA O. GAINES, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Vatenyca O. Gaines, seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Administration's (SSA) denial of her application
for disability insurance benefits (DIB). 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. 16], and both parties have briefed
their positions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
affirms the Commissioner's decision.
December 28, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued
an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to DIB. AR 15-21. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at
1-8. 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 July 10, 2014, her alleged
onset date. AR 17.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical
spine, status post 1999 fusion; degenerative disc disease of
the lumbar spine, status post discectomy at ¶ 4-5;
degenerative joint disease of the right knee, status post
total knee replacement; bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome;
Hallus rigidus, plantar fasciitis of the left foot, status
post arthosurface implant arthroplasty, left first
metatarsophalangeal joint. Id. 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
with the following additional limitations:
She can lift/carry 10 pounds frequently and occasionally. She
can sit six hours during an eight-hour day. She can
stand/walk two hours during an eight-hour day, but she needs
to avoid uneven walking surfaces. She can frequently climb
ramps and stairs. She can occasionally kneel and crouch. She
cannot crawl or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can
frequently grip, handle, finger, and feel.
Id. at 18-19; see also 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(a) (defining sedentary work).
four, relying on a vocational expert's (VE) testimony,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff is capable of performing her
past relevant work as an insurance customer service
representative. AR 21. Based on this finding, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the
Social Security Act. Id.
Claims Presented for Judicial Review
alleges the ALJ erred in: (1) assessing her obesity and her
shoulder impairment; (2) evaluating her subjective symptoms;
and (3) evaluating medical evidence. Pl.'s Br. [Doc. No.
25] at 9-18, 18-25, 25-27. As explained below, the Court
finds no grounds for reversal.