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West v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

January 15, 2020

DIANA LYNN WEST, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Diana Lynn West (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 to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Docs. 3, 7.

         Plaintiff maintains the ALJ committed legal and factual error in misapplying the treating physician rule and SSR 12-2p and in evaluating her fibromyalgia and subjective complaints of pain. Doc. 10, at 5-14. After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, and the relevant authority, the court reverses the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).[1]

         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 17-27; 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 not engaged in substantial gainful activity from the alleged onset date of May 20, 2016;
(2) had the severe impairments of obesity, other unspecified arthropathies, and affective disorder;
(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 (RFC)[2] for sedentary work with additional restrictions;
(5) was unable to perform any past relevant work, but could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy such as machine folder, ticket counter, and nut sorter; and thus (6) was not disabled ...

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