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Pritz v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

January 10, 2018

JO ANNA PRTIZ, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Jo Anna Pritz (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. 8, 14.[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 an alternative work activity and that this specific type of job exists in the national economy.” Id. (citation omitted).

         C. Relevant findings.

         After remand from the Appeals Council, the ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis and concluded Plaintiff had not met her burden of proof. AR 443-456; 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 obesity, second, by hypertension, third, by major depressive disorder, fourth, by status post cerebral vascular accident, fifth, by vision disorder in right eye, sixth, by left vertebral artery occlusion, seventh, by panic disorder without agoraphobia, eighth, by dysthymic disorder, and ninth, by posttraumatic stress 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 (RFC)[2] to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with additional limitations, particularly that she can occasionally climb ramps, stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, can read small and large print and can work with small and large objects, can avoid ordinary hazards in the workplace but still must avoid even moderate exposure to hazards, such as unprotected heights and heavy machinery, must avoid environments with moving objects approaching from the right, can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, can relate to supervisors and coworkers on a superficial work basis, can respond to usual work situations, and can have no contact with the general public;
(4) could not perform her past relevant work;
(5) could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy, such as collator operator, routing clerk, and mail sorter; and so,
(6) had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 8, 2010 ...

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