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Carron v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

October 2, 2017

JENNIFER CARRON, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Jennifer Carron (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security's (Commissioner) final decision 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. 12.[1]Following a careful review of the parties' briefs, the administrative record (AR), and the relevant authority, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision.

         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 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.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis and concluded Plaintiff had not met her burden of proof. AR 11-21; 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 analysis). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) was severely impaired, first, by disorders of the cervical and lumbar spine, discogenic and degenerative, status post C5-7 fusion, second, by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, third, by bilateral shoulder impairments, status post January 2010, October 2013, and September 2014 right shoulder arthroscopies, and fourth, by history of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, status post January 2003 left and March 2003 right releases;
(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 (RFC)[2] to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that she can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel and crouch, and crawl, never climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds, have no more than occasional exposure to irritants, such as dusts, fumes, smokes, gases, and poor ventilation, have no more than occasional exposure to high humidity and wetness, must avoid exposure to temperatures of more than 80 degrees and less than 60 degrees, never work overhead, as to the use of the upper extremities below overhead level, occasionally reach, handle, finger, and feel, and must avoid exposure to industrial type vibration;
(4) could perform no past relevant work;
(5) could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy, such as information clerk, furniture rental clerk, and photofinishing counter clerk; and so,
(6) had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from July 5, 2013 through June 26, 2015.

AR 14-21.

         D. Appeals Council action.

         The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Appeals Council found no reason to review that decision. Id. at 1-5. The ALJ's decision is thus the Commissioner's final decision. See Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011).

         II. Judicial review of the ...


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