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Jerris B. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

October 31, 2019

JERRIS B., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. She contends the ALJ erred in discounting certain medical opinions, and discounting her testimony and the lay statements.[1] Dkt. 14 at 1. As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently 52 years old, has a high school diploma and some college education, and has worked as a carpenter, cook, and deli worker. Tr. 311, 550. In June 2015, she applied for benefits, alleging disability as of November 8, 2013. Tr. 483-95. Her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 410-13, 416-21. The ALJ conducted a hearing on May 3, 2017 (Tr. 306-45), and subsequently found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 234-50.

         The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review, and its February 15, 2019 decision finding Plaintiff not disabled is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-9.

         THE APPEALS COUNCIL'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the Appeals Council found:

Step one: Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 8, 2013.
Step two: Plaintiff's calcific aortic stenosis of the bicuspid valve, aerotic insufficiency, and aeortic regurgitation post-valve replacement; neurocognitive impairment; degenerative disc disease; and depression are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform light work with the following limitations: she can occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. She should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme temperatures, pulmonary irritants, and hazards. She can frequently handle and finger bilaterally. She should be limited to simple, routine tasks consistent with unskilled work. She is limited to low-stress work, “defined as work requiring work decisions or changes.” She may have frequent [contact] with co[]-workers and occasional, superficial interaction with the public.
Step four: Plaintiff cannot perform her past work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, ...

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