United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ERIKA M. QUIROZ, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE
B. Leighton United States District Judge.
M. Quiroz seeks review of the denial of her applications for
Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance
Benefits. She contends the ALJ erred in assessing certain
medical opinions, lay testimony, and her own subjective
statements. Dkt. 10. As discussed below, the Court
AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final
decision and DISMISSES the case with
Quiroz is currently 49 years old, has a high school diploma
and two years of college education, and has worked as an
illustrator and graphic designer. Tr. 48, 217. In July 2013,
she applied for benefits, alleging disability as of October
1, 2007. Tr. 184-96. Her applications were denied
initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 132-37, 139-40. The ALJ
conducted a hearing on May 22, 2015 (Tr. 41-81), and
subsequently issued a decision finding Ms. Quiroz not
disabled. Tr. 19-35. As the Appeals Council denied Ms.
Quiroz's request for review, the ALJ's decision is
the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-4.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Ms. Quiroz has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
Step two: Ms. Quiroz's severe
impairments include fibromyalgia, anxiety disorders, bipolar
disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
Step three: These impairments did not meet
or equal the requirements of a listed
Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”): Ms. Quiroz can perform light
work, with additional limitations. She can lift/carry 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can
stand/walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday, and sit
for six hours in an eight-hour workday. She should avoid
exposure to extreme cold and heat, vibrations, heights,
hazards, and heavy equipment. She can perform simple, routine
tasks consistent with a specific vocational preparation level
of 1-2. She cannot have contact with the public and would do
best with “independent-type” work.
Step four: Ms. Quiroz cannot perform her
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Quiroz
can perform, she is not disabled.
Quiroz raises a number of challenges to certain medical
opinions, which the Court will address in turn.