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McGregor v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

December 23, 2019

LYNETTA D. McGREGOR, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SDZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Lynetta D. McGregor (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision that she was not “disabled” under 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. 9, 13.[1] Plaintiff argues substantial evidence does not support the jobs the ALJ identified at step five of the analysis and that the ALJ should have limited her residual functional capacity[2] to exclude contact with the public. Doc. 14, at 3-7. After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, 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 h[er] 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 [s]he can no longer engage in h[er] 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's findings.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled during the relevant timeframe. AR 15-26; 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 process). The ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) had the following severe impairments: depression, anxiety, and diabetes;
(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 for light work “with nonexertional limitations in that claimant would be limited to work that is of SVP level 2 or less as defined in the DOT”; “would have the ability to understand, remember, and carry out ordinary and/or routine written or oral instructions and tasks and to set realistic goals and plans independently of others”; and “would have the ...

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