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Kelley v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

December 1, 2017

ZONA MARIE KELLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Zona Marie Kelley (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. Docs. 12, 13.[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 19-26; 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 dysfunction of major joints, second, by obesity, third, by an affective disorder, fourth, by a pain disorder with both psychological factors and a general medical condition, fifth, by hypertension, sixth, by right thigh pain/meralgia paresthetica, and seventh, by knee pain;
(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 sedentary work, with some limitations;
(4) could perform her past relevant work as a telephone operator; so, she
(5) had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 1, 2012 through February 12, 2016.[3]

AR 21-26.

         D. Appeals Council action.

         The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Appeals Council found no reason to review the ALJ's decision. Id. at 1-5. So, the ALJ's decision is 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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