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Ray v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 3, 2019

SHARMEEN MARIA RAY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Sharmeen Maria Ray (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security's 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, 16.[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 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 that 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 to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled during the relevant timeframe. See AR 12-23; see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4); 416.920(a)(4); Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step process). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date of November 13, 2010;
(2) had the severe impairments of first, asthma, second, hypertension; third, diabetes; fourth, headaches; fifth, obesity; sixth, depression; and seventh, borderline intellectual functioning;
(3) had no impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment;
(4) had the residual functional capacity[2] to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) and § 416.967(b), with various limitations, including that she can understand, remember, comprehend, and carry out simple work-related instructions and tasks, can work with supervisors and co-workers on a regular basis, cannot work with the general public, but could adapt to routine changes in the working environment;
(5) could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy, such as mail sorter, laundry worker, ...

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