Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Moore v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

May 31, 2017

LAURIE ANN MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION

          FRED VAN SICKLE Senior United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court based upon cross motions for summary judgment. At issue is the validity of a decision denying Laurie Ann Moore's claim for supplemental security income. The plaintiff is represented by Jeffrey Schwab. The defendant is represented by Richard M. Rodriguez.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Laurie Ann Moore was born on November 1, 1968. (TR 52.) On April 8, 2013, Ms. Moore applied for Title XVI supplemental security income (“SSI”). 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied her initial application and her request for reconsideration, whereupon she exercised her right to a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing took place on April 8, 2015. (TR 43.) On May 6, 2015, the ALJ issued an order setting forth the determinations she made at each step in the SSA's five-step sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4).

         Ms. Moore accepts the findings the ALJ made at steps one through three. That is to say, she has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since she allegedly became disabled. (Step one.) She suffers from the severe impairments identified by the ALJ, viz., “migraine headaches; degenerative changes in the cervical spine; status post right hand injury in 1993; obesity; depression; and anxiety.” (Step two.) But her impairments are not severe enough to create a conclusive presumption of disability. (Step three.)

         It is at step four that Ms. Moore's objections begin. She alleges the ALJ improperly formulated her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). The latter is the most she can do despite her impairments. 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(1). An RFC is expressed in terms of an exertional level, i.e., whether the claimant is capable of performing a job that is “sedentary, light, medium, heavy, [or] very heavy.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.967.

         In order to determine Ms. Moore's RFC, the ALJ had to weigh the evidence. While the ALJ was not unsympathetic to Ms. Moore, the ALJ did not fully credit her description of the limitations she experiences as a result of her impairments. (TR 32.) Nor did the ALJ fully credit the opinions of John Arnold, Ph.D., a psychologist. Indeed, she accorded Dr. Arnold's opinions “little weight.” (TR 33-34.)

         Ms. Moore objects to the ALJ's decision to discount both Dr. Arnold's opinions and her description of the limitations she experiences. Had the ALJ given proper weight to this evidence, says Ms. Moore, the ALJ would have found she typically suffers 15-20 migraine headaches per month, and when she is experiencing a migraine headache, which can last for hours at a time, she is incapable of performing even sedentary work. According to Ms. Moore, no employer would retain an employee who missed as much work as she would.

         The ALJ did not see it that way. The ALJ found Ms. Moore presently is capable of performing light work (step four) and “there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.” (Step five.) As a result, the ALJ ruled Ms. Moore is not disabled. (TR 35-36.)

         Ms. Moore asked the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's unfavorable ruling. On February 9, 2016, the Council declined to do so. With that, the ALJ's ruling became the final decision of the Social Security Administration. 20 C.F.R. § 416.1484(b)(2). Ms. Moore commenced this action on April 5, 2016.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A district court has the “power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). However, review is limited. “The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive[.]” Id. As a result, the Commissioner's decision “will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or it is based on legal error.” Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 529 (9th Cir.1986). “Substantial evidence” means more than a mere scintilla, . . . but less than a preponderance.” Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir.1988) (internal punctuation and citations omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         Ms. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.