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Snyder v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

December 27, 2019

LAWRENCE SNYDER, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHONT. ERWIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff 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).

         The 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 Commissioner's decision.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Initially and on reconsideration, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Plaintiff's application for benefits. Following two administrative hearings, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision. (TR. 15-22). Subsequently, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, [1] making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         II. THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         The ALJ 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. § 416.920. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 25, 2016, his application date. (TR. 17). At step two, the ALJ determined that Mr. Snyder had the following severe impairments: asymptomatic HIV; osteoarthritis of the left knee; and obesity. (TR. 18). 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. 19).

         At step four, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Snyder retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:

[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b): that is, the claimant can occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds and can lift and/or carry frequently 10 pounds; stand and/or walk at least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; sit at least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; and no more than occasionally climb such things as stairs or ramps, kneel, crouch, or crawl.

(TR. 20). With this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Snyder was able to perform his past relevant work as a short order cook and a liquor establishment manager. (TR. 22). Thus, at step four, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Snyder was not disabled. (TR. 22).

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This 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).

         While 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).

         IV. ...


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