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Quiroz v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

March 6, 2018

ERIKA M. QUIROZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          Ronald B. Leighton United States District Judge.

         Erika 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 prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Ms. 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.[1] 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 ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] 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 impairment.[3]
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 past work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Quiroz can perform, she is not disabled.

Tr. 19-35.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Medical Opinions

         Ms. Quiroz raises a number of challenges to certain medical opinions, which the Court will address in turn.

         1. ...


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