United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
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
applications 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 REVERSES AND
REMANDS the Commissioner's decision.
and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration
denied Plaintiff's application for benefits. Following a
hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision. (TR. 21-39). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (TR. 1-3). Thus, the
decision of the ALJ became 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 October 15,
2014, her alleged onset date. (TR. 24). At step two, the ALJ
determined that Ms. Pickens had the following severe
impairments: obesity; asthma; other unspecified
arthropathies; hypertension; and fibromyalgia. (TR. 24). 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. 31).
four, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Pickens retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally climb
ramps and stairs; occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, or
crawl; and occasional exposure to environmental irritants
such as fumes, odors, dusts, and gases.
(TR. 33). With this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
could perform her past relevant work as a cafeteria
attendant, guard, and data entry clerk. (TR. 37). Even so,
the ALJ proceeded to step five and presented the RFC
limitations to a vocational expert (VE) to determine whether
there were other jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. (TR. 92-93). Given the limitations, the VE
identified six jobs from the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (DOT). (TR. 94-96). The ALJ adopted the VE's
testimony and concluded that Ms. Pickens was not disabled at
steps four or five. (TR. 38-39).
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, Ms. Pickens alleges the ALJ erred: (1) at step three
and (2) in evaluating opinions from a ...