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Ibarra v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

September 1, 2017

OLGA IBARRA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Olga Ibarra (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the 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. 17.

         After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, and the relevant authority, the undersigned affirms the Commissioner's final 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 which 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 his 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 he can no longer engage in his 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 in order to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled during the relevant time period. AR 20-26;[1] see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4); 416.920(a)(4); see also Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step process). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) was severely impaired by first, rheumatoid arthritis, second, by degenerative disc disease, third, by sciatica, fourth, by osteoarthritis, and fifth, by status post two right shoulder surgeries, March 2012 right knee surgery, and September 2014 right hip surgery;
(2) had no impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment;
(2) had the residual functional capacity[2] (RFC) for light work except that Plaintiff can only:
a. occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl,
b. never climb ropes, ladders or ...

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