United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
COY L. RICH, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
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
application for benefits 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 AFFIRMS the
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
(SSA) denied Plaintiff's application for benefits.
Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued
an unfavorable decision. (TR. 10-25). Subsequently, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
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. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December
23, 2013, his alleged onset date. (TR. 12). At step two, the
ALJ determined that Mr. Rich had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine
and degenerative joint disease of the right shoulder, status
post arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and subsequent open
repair. (TR. 12). 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. 13).
four, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Rich was unable to perform
any past relevant work, but retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
he is limited to frequent balancing, stooping, kneeling, and
climbing ramps and stairs. He can occasionally crouch, and
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but can never crawl. He
can occasionally reach overhead with the right upper
extremity and can frequently grip, handle, finger, and feel
with the dominant right hand.
(TR. 23, 14). With this RFC, the ALJ proceeded to step five
and presented these limitations to a vocational expert (VE)
to determine whether there were other jobs in the national
economy that Plaintiff could perform. (TR. 60). Given the
limitations, the VE identified three jobs from the Dictionary
of Occupational Titles (DOT). (TR. 60). The ALJ adopted the
VE's testimony and concluded that Mr. Rich was not
disabled at step five. (TR. 24-25).
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 “sufficien[t] evidence” to support the
agency's factual determinations. Biestek v.
Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019).
“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.” Biestek v. Berryhill, 139 S.Ct.
at 1154 (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, Mr. Rich alleges the ALJ erred: (1) in evaluating
opinions from various medical sources and (2) at step five.
(ECF No. 18:5-13).
THE ALJ'S EVALUATION OF MEDICAL OPINIONS
alleges error in the ALJ's consideration of medical
opinions offered by: (1) Dr. M. Sean O'Brien; (2) Dr.
James Odor; (3) Dr. David ...