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Jones v. Berryhill

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

April 10, 2018

DEBRA A. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge.

         Debra A. Jones appeals the ALJ's decision finding her not disabled contending the ALJ misevaluated the medical evidence, her testimony, and the lay testimony, and that the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) determination therefore fails to account for all of her limitations. Dkt. 12. She also contends the Court should remand the case based upon new evidence that she submitted to the Appeals Council. Id. at 18-19. As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Ms. Jones is currently 62 years old, has a high school diploma and training as a certified nursing assistant, and has worked as a cashier, customer service representative, retail sales associate, retail greeter, housekeeper, and seamstress. Tr. 156-57, 162. In February 2011, she protectively applied for benefits, alleging disability as of December 15, 2010. Tr. 140-43, 151.

         Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 88-90, 95-99. The ALJ conducted a hearing on August 2, 2012, Tr. 23-57, and subsequently issued a decision finding Ms. Jones not disabled. Tr. 11-19.

         The Appeals Council denied review of this decision, (Tr. 1-6), and Ms. Jones requested judicial review in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Tr. 482-87. The Court granted the parties' stipulation to reverse the ALJ's 2012 decision and remand for further administrative proceedings. Tr. 488-94. A different ALJ conducted hearings on July 27, 2015, and December 7, 2015, Tr. 376-460, and subsequently issued a decision in 2016 finding Ms. Jones not disabled. Tr. 343-56. Ms. Jones sought review in the Appeals Council submitting exceptions and additional evidence. As the Appeals Council denied review, the ALJ's 2016 decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 322-26.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found:

Step one: Ms. Jones did not engage in substantial gainful activity between her alleged onset date through her date last insured (“DLI”).
Step two: Through the DLI, Ms. Jones' obesity and fibromyalgia were severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
RFC: Ms. Jones can perform light work, with additional limitations. She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch, and cannot climb or crawl.
Step four: Ms. Jones can perform her past work as a return clerk, cashier II, and sewing machine operator, and is therefore not disabled.

Tr. 343-56.

         DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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