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Lou W. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

May 13, 2019

CINDY LOU W., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION AND DISMISSING THE CASE WITH PREJUDICE

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred by discounting her mental health testimony, failing to assess any mental health limitations, and ignoring vocational expert testimony. Dkt. 13. As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently 58 years old, has a high school education, and has worked as a cashier and driver. Dkt. 9, Administrative Record (AR) 54, 112, 39-40. Plaintiff applied for benefits in September 2012, alleging disability as of March 6, 2012. AR 102. Plaintiff's application was denied initially, on reconsideration, and by an ALJ decision in October 2013. AR 101, 114, 131-50. The Appeals Council remanded for reconsideration of mental impairments and obesity. AR 157-59. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on September 17, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision in December 2015 finding Plaintiff not disabled. AR 47, 26-40.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found that, between the alleged onset date of March 6, 2012, and the date last insured of September 30, 2015:

Step one: Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity.
Step two: Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, post laminectomy syndrome; mild to moderate left hip degenerative joint disease/possible trochanteric bursitis; obesity; and a seizure disorder.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff could perform light work, lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She could sit or stand/walk for six hours each per day, frequently balance, kneel, and crouch, occasionally climb ramps and stairs, stoop, and crawl, but never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. She had to avoid concentrated exposure to wetness, vibration, and hazards.
Step four: Plaintiff could perform past relevant work as a cashier and thus was not disabled.
Step five: The ALJ did not reach step five.

AR 28-40. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the ...


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