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Andrea R. C. v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

June 26, 2019

ANDREA R. C., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER RULING ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court, without oral argument, are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, ECF Nos. 11 & 19. Plaintiff appeals the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income. ECF No. 3. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred by (1) improperly discrediting Plaintiff's symptom claims and (2) failing to properly consider and weigh the opinion evidence. ECF No. 11 at 14-19. The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) asks the Court to affirm the ALJ's decision. ECF No. 19.

         After reviewing the record and relevant legal authorities, the Court is fully informed to make a decision prior to the hearing date for the motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms the ALJ's decision and therefore denies Plaintiff's motion and grants the Commissioner's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income on January 31, 2015. AR[2]259-67. Plaintiff alleged disability beginning October 16, 2010. AR 259. The SSA denied Plaintiff's claims initially and upon reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing. AR 191-93. ALJ R. J. Payne presided over hearings on February 14, 2017, AR 87-108, and June 15, 2017, AR 109-53. The ALJ issued a decision unfavorable to Plaintiff. AR 15-36. The SSA Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR 1-4.

         II. ALJ FINDINGS [3]

         At step one, the ALJ found Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 31, 2015. AR 20.

         At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: left foot bunion; low body mass index possibly due to history of irritable bowel syndrome, controlled by diet; exercise-induced asthma; major depressive disorder; and generalized anxiety disorder. AR 20.

         At step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal the severity of a listed impairment. AR 23.

         At step four, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work with certain limitations. AR 25. Specifically, the ALJ noted,

[Plaintiff] can lift no more than 20 pounds at a time occasionally and lift or carry 10 pounds at a time frequently. Sitting is unlimited but stand and walk is limited to 4-6 hours in any combination in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks. She can occasionally engage in pushing/pulling of arm controls and foot controls with the left foot within weight limits above. She can occasionally climb ramps, stairs, ladders, and scaffolds, and only frequently engage in stooping, crouching, kneeling, crawling, and balancing. She should avoid concentrated exposure to heavy industrial-type vibration which might affect the left foot, pulmonary irritants, unprotected heights, and extreme cold. She can understand, remember, and carry out simple routine work instructions and work tasks and occasionally more complex work instructions and work tasks. She can have occasional contact with the general public and she can work with or in the vicinity of coworkers but not in a teamwork-type work setting. She can handle normal supervision but no over-the-shoulder or confrontational type of supervision.

AR 25.

         Further, the ALJ found Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work. AR 30.

         Finally, at step five, the ALJ found jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform considering her age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity. AR 30. Accordingly, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled, as defined by the Social Security Act, since January 31, 2015. AR 31.

         III. ...


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