United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
ALICE THEILER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
proceeds through counsel in her appeal of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) after a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Having considered the
ALJ's decision, the administrative record (AR), and all
memoranda of record, this matter is AFFIRMED.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1964. She completed the eleventh grade and
has past relevant work as a caregiver. (AR 45, 55.)
filed DIB and SSI applications in January and April 2015
respectively, alleging disability beginning December 31,
2013. (AR 291, 296.) The applications were denied at the
initial level and on reconsideration.
17, 2017, ALJ Kimberly Boyce held a hearing, taking testimony
from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR 38-59.) At
hearing, plaintiff amended her alleged onset date and
requested a closed period of disability from February 12,
2015 until June 1, 2016, when she returned to work at the
substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. (AR 41-44.) On
November 29, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled. (AR 22-32.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on August 30, 2018 (AR 2), making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to
Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2000).
At step one, it must be determined whether the claimant is
gainfully employed. The ALJ found plaintiff engaged in SGA
beginning June 1, 2016, noting her hiring by employers in
June and October 2016, her testimony she worked thirty-nine
hours a week, and her representative's report her
earnings were above SGA level. However, because there had
been a continuous twelve-month period of no SGA, the ALJ
rendered findings addressing a closed period.
two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers from a
severe impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's
fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, depression, and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) severe. Step three asks
whether a claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed
impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's impairments did not
meet or equal a listing.
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listing,
the Commissioner must assess residual functional capacity
(RFC) and determine at step four whether the claimant has
demonstrated an inability to perform past relevant work. The
ALJ found plaintiff able to perform medium work with the
following limitations: occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl; understand, remember, and carry out unskilled,
routine, and repetitive work that could be learned by
demonstration and with tasks predetermined by the employer;
occasional work setting changes; occasional interaction with
supervisors; work in proximity to co-workers, but not in a
teamwork, cooperative effort; and no interaction with the
general public as an essential element of the job, but
occasional, incidental contact not precluded. With that
assessment, the ALJ found plaintiff unable to perform her
past relevant work.
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform past relevant
work, or has no past relevant work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate at step five that the claimant
retains the capacity to make an adjustment to work that
exists in significant levels in the national economy. With
the assistance of the VE, the ALJ found plaintiff capable ...