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Bellomy v. Berryhill

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

March 22, 2018

TINA M. BELLOMY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Tina M. Bellomy seeks review of the denial of her applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. She contends the ALJ's residual functional capacity finding is erroneous because neither the objective medical evidence nor any medical opinion provides substantial evidence to support it. Dkt. 8. The AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Ms. Bellomy is currently 45 years old, has completed an associate's degree, and has worked as a bookkeeper, credit clerk, data entry clerk, cashier, and gambling dealer. Tr. 55, 85, 220. She applied for benefits in July 2013, alleging disability as of April 2013. Tr. 220, 227. After her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, the ALJ conducted a hearing and, on September 23, 2016, issued a decision finding Ms. Bellomy not disabled. Tr. 20-34. The Appeals Council denied Ms. Bellomy's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Using the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found that Ms. Bellomy had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date; she had the following severe impairments: degenerative joint disease of the knees, right patella femoral osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease of the shoulders, back disorder, asthma, diabetes mellitus, varicose veins, seizures and headache, and obesity; and that these impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2] Tr. 22-23. The ALJ found that Ms. Bellomy had the residual functional capacity to perform light work except as follows: she could stand and or walk about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; she could push and pull frequently; she could climb ramps and stairs and stoop frequently; she could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she could occasionally kneel, crouch, or crawl; she could frequently reach overhead bilaterally; she could tolerate occasional exposure to excessive vibration, atmospherics, and hazards; and she could tolerate no exposure to unprotected heights. Tr. 24. The ALJ found that Ms. Bellomy was capable of performing her past work as a bookkeeper, credit clerk, data entry clerk, and cashier as those jobs are performed in the national economy. Tr. 33. The ALJ found that she was therefore not disabled. Tr. 33-34.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Objective medical evidence

         Ms. Bellomy asserts that certain objective medical evidence is inconsistent with the ALJ's RFC assessment; she details various imaging, testing, and physical examination results related to her knees, lungs, right shoulder, and low back. Dkt. 8 at 3-5. For each of these impairments, Ms. Bellomy asserts that the findings she lists are inconsistent with some aspect of the ALJ's RFC finding. She concludes, “Consequently, the objective medical evidence concerning Bellomy's knees, lungs, shoulder, or low back does not constitute objective medical evidence in support of the ALJ's RFC finding.” Dkt. 8 at 5.

         Ms. Bellomy does not offer any explanation as to how the evidence she identifies undermines the ALJ's RFC finding. She merely presents the evidence and makes a conclusory statement that it is inconsistent with the RFC finding. To the extent Ms. Bellomy has identified conflicts in the evidence, it is the ALJ, not this Court, who resolves such conflicts. Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995). And to the extent Ms. Bellomy seeks an interpretation of the evidence that is different from the ALJ's, this Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002). When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must uphold the Commissioner's conclusion. Id. Ms. Bellomy has not shown that the ALJ's interpretation of the evidence was not rational. She simply invites the Court to come to a different conclusion about the meaning of the evidence than ALJ did. This the Court cannot do. Ms. Bellomy has not shown an error in the ALJ's analysis of the objective medical evidence or that the objective medical evidence does not support the ALJ's RFC finding.

         B. Medical opinions

         Ms. Bellomy asserts that there are no medical opinions that are consistent with or support the ALJ's RFC finding, such that no medical opinion provides substantial evidence to support the RFC finding. Dkt. 8 at 5.

         1. Dr. Ignacio

         Olegario Ignacio, M.D., reviewed the evidence in November 2013 and opined that Ms. Bellomy could perform a reduced range of light work, including a limitation to standing or walking for 4 hours in an 8-hour workday. Tr. 145. The ALJ gave Dr. Ignacio's opinion significant weight, finding that it was consistent with the evidence available at the time of his review, but the ALJ stated he considered the additional evidence ...


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