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Wilkins-Beaver v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

March 6, 2017

CHARLOTTE L. WILKINS-BEAVER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Charlotte L. Wilkins-Beaver (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security's (Commissioner) final decision that she was not “disabled” under the terms of the Social Security Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 423(d)(1)(A). The parties have consented under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge. Doc. 10.

         After a careful review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the relevant authority, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         I. Administrative determination.

         A. Disability standard.

         The Social Security Act defines “disability” as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). “This twelve-month duration requirement applies to the claimant's inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity, and not just h[er] underlying impairment.” Lax v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (citing Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 218-19 (2002)).

         B. Burden of proof.

         Plaintiff “bears the burden of establishing a disability” and of “ma[king] a prima facie showing that [s]he can no longer engage in h[er] prior work activity.” Turner v. Heckler, 754 F.2d 326, 328 (10th Cir. 1985). If Plaintiff makes that prima facie showing, the burden of proof then shifts to the Commissioner to show Plaintiff retains the capacity to perform a different type of work and that such a specific type of job exists in the national economy. Id.

         C. Relevant findings.

         1. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) findings.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis and concluded Plaintiff had not met her burden of proof. AR 11-31; see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(2); see also Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step process). Specifically, and relevant to this action, the ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) was severely impaired by migraine headaches, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and personality disorder;
(2) did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment;
(3) had the residual functional capacity[1] (RFC) to perform sedentary work with some limitations: she occasionally can lift and/or carry and push and/or pull ten pounds and frequently can lift and/or carry and push and/or pull less than ten pounds; she can stand and/or walk for a total of two hours in an eight-hour workday and can sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday; she cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and cannot balance; she must avoid exposure to unprotected heights and hazardous, unprotected machinery; she can perform simple tasks with routine supervision but cannot perform customer service work or have any public contact; she can interact appropriately with supervisors and co-workers on a superficial work basis and can adapt to work situations;
(4) was unable to perform any past relevant work;
(5) was able to perform jobs existing in the national economy; and so,
(6) had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 31, 2012-her alleged onset of disability date-through September 18, 2014, the date of the ALJ's decision.

AR 19-31.

         2. Appeals ...


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