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Ford v. Berryhill

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

July 27, 2018

MICHELLE SALISE FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Michelle Salise Ford appeals the ALJ's decision finding her disabled as of January 2, 2016, but not disabled between March 26, 2011, and January 1, 2016. She contends the ALJ erred in (1) finding at step three she did not meet or equal Listings 1.02 or 1.03, (2) assessing certain medical opinion evidence, (3) discounting her testimony, and (4) entering findings at step five.[1] Dkt. 10 at 2. The Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff has an eleventh-grade education and certified nurse assistant (“CNA”) training, and has worked as a CNA, cook, painter, temporary laborer, and elections administration specialist. Tr. 323, 653, 660. At the time of the most recent administrative hearing, plaintiff was working part-time for FedEx labeling and scanning packages. Tr. 350. In May 2011 and August 2012, she applied for benefits, alleging disability as of June 15, 2010.[2] Tr. 607-10, 613-18. Her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 471-88. The ALJ conducted a hearing on October 2, 2014 (Tr. 307-43), and subsequently found plaintiff not disabled before November 1, 2012, but disabled thereafter. Tr. 443-55. The Appeals Council granted plaintiff's request for review and reversed the entire ALJ decision, remanding for a new hearing and consideration of new evidence as well as reconsideration of plaintiff's mental impairments and RFC. Tr. 462-63.

         A different ALJ held a hearing on November 8, 2016 (Tr. 344-66), and subsequently found plaintiff not disabled before January 2, 2016, but disabled thereafter. Tr. 221-38. The Appeals Council denied review making the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 2-8.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [3] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff worked since her alleged onset date, but this work did not rise to the level of substantial gainful activity.
Step two: Ms. Ford's history of pulmonary embolism, history of plantar fascia release, history of renal insufficiency, status post bilateral shoulder surgeries, mild carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical degenerative disc disease, mild lumbar facet arthrosis, status post reattachment of Achilles tendon and retrocalcaneal exostectomy in the right foot, mild degenerative joint disease in left foot, status post bunionectomy and removal of soft tissue in the right foot, mild degenerative changes in the left hip, depression, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and psychosis were severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[4]
RFC: Plaintiff can perform sedentary work, with additional limitations. She cannot climb ropes, ladders, and scaffolds. She cannot climb stairs, crouch, crawl, and kneel. She can occasionally stoop. She can frequently handle and finger. She must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold. She can understand, remember, and carry out simple and routine tasks. She can perform unskilled jobs that do not require fast paced (i.e. belt paced) production. She can have superficial contact with the general public and work with small groups. She can interact with co-workers and supervisors to complete tasks.
Step four: Plaintiff cannot perform her past work.
Step five: Beginning on January 2, 2016, Plaintiff was disabled under the Medical-Vocational Rules. Before that date, there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, and she was therefore not disabled during that time period.

Tr. ...


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