United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Laura Tapia, seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Administration's denial of her applications for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security
income (SSI). United States District Judge Charles Goodwin
has referred the matter for proposed findings and
recommendations. See 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(B), 636(B)(3); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The Commissioner
has filed the Administrative Record (AR) [Doc. No. 11], and
both parties have briefed their positions. For the reasons
set forth below, it is recommended that the
Commissioner's decision be affirmed.
August 28, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and,
therefore, not entitled to DIB or SSI. AR 16-32. 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.
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, 416.920. Following
this process, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 3, 2015,
her alleged onset date. AR 19.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of cervical and
lumbar spine; knee impairment, status post July 2016 left
knee arthroscopy; shoulder tendonitis and bursitis; diabetes
mellitus; hypertension; hypothyroidism; morbid obesity; major
depressive disorder, recurrent, moderate; and borderline
level of intellectual functioning. 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 20.
next determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC), concluding that Plaintiff could perform sedentary work
as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a), with the following additional limitations:
[Plaintiff] requires a sit/stand option, in that [Plaintiff]
can sit for about 45 minutes at any one time, before standing
briefly at the workstation for less than 5 minutes;
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, and stoop;
never kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ropes, ladders, or
scaffolds; avoid exposure to industrial type vibration; must
avoid exposure to workplace hazards, such as dangerous moving
machinery and unprotected heights; perform no work overhead;
as to the use of the upper extremities beneath overhead
level, frequently reach; understand, remember, and carry out
simple instructions; make only simple work related decisions;
deal with only occasional changes in work processes and
environment; have no contact with the general public; and
have only incidental, superficial work-related type contact
with the general public, co-workers, and supervisors, i.e.,
brief, succinct, cursory, concise communication relevant to
the task being performed.
Id. at 24.
four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff is unable to perform any
past relevant work and her acquired job skills do not
transfer to other occupations within her RFC. Id. at
30-31. The ALJ then proceeded to step five and, relying on
the testimony of a vocational expert, found Plaintiff can
perform work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy. Id. at 31. Specifically, the ALJ found
Plaintiff can perform the requirements of representative jobs
such as table worker/sorter, document preparer, and touchup
screener. Id. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Social Security
Act. Id. at 32.
Claim Presented for Judicial Review
presents one claim of error, alleging the ALJ erred in
assessing her obesity. Pl.'s Br. [Doc. No. 15] at 4-9. As
explained below, the undersigned finds no grounds for