United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE CANDY W. DALE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is the Petition for Review of
Respondent's denial of widow's disability Social
Security Insurance Benefits filed by Deanna Crispin on July
1, 2015. (Dkt. 1.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the
parties consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this
matter by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge.
(Dkt. 9.) The Court has reviewed the Petition for Review and
the Answer, the parties' memoranda, and the
administrative record (AR), and for the reasons that follow,
will affirm the decision of the Commissioner.
AND FACTUAL HISTORY
filed an application for widow's disability Social
Security Insurance Benefits on February 28, 2012, claiming
disability beginning November 1, 2009, due to right median
entrapment neuropathy, degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar spine, gastritis, and obesity. Her application was
denied initially and again on reconsideration, and a hearing
was held before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Lori Freund on
August 14, 2013. After hearing testimony from Petitioner and
a vocational expert, ALJ Freund issued a decision finding
Petitioner not disabled on October 22, 2013. On May 6, 2015,
the Appeals Council denied Petitioner's request for
review, making the ALJ's decision the final agency
decision. Petitioner appealed this final decision to the
Court. The Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's
decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
was born on December 27, 1960. She graduated from high school
and completed two years of college, and her prior work
experience includes work as a home attendant, a massage
therapist, and a caretaker for the elderly. (AR 74, 80.)
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step one, it must
be determined whether the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity. The ALJ found Petitioner has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date,
November 1, 2009. At step two, it must be determined whether
the claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ found
Petitioner's right median neuropathy, degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, gastritis, and obesity severe
within the meaning of the Regulations.
three asks whether a claimant's impairment meets or
equals a listed impairment. The ALJ found none of
Petitioner's severe impairments met or equaled its
corresponding listing requirements, specifically considering
Listing 1.04 (disorders of the spine), listings under 5.00
(digestive), and 11.14 (peripheral neuropathies).
Additionally, the ALJ found, primarily based on lack of
medical source opinions to the contrary, Petitioner's
obesity, while severe, had not exacerbated her other severe
impairments such that they met or medically equaled a
listing. If a claimant's impairments do not meet or equal
a listing, the Commissioner must assess the claimant's
residual functional capacity (RFC) and determine, at step
four, whether the claimant has demonstrated an inability to
perform past relevant work.
found Petitioner was not able to perform past relevant work
as a home attendant. If a claimant demonstrates an inability
to perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate, at step five, that the claimant
retains the capacity to make an adjustment to other work that
exists in significant levels in the national economy, after
considering the claimant's residual functional capacity,
age, education and work experience.
the ALJ found Petitioner retained the RFC to perform light
work, with limitations restricting her to a position with a
sit/stand option that allows position changes at 60-minute
intervals; she could occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch,
crawl, climb ramps or stairs, but could never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds; and she would need to avoid exposure to
excessive vibration, hazardous machinery, and unprotected
heights. With this RFC, the ALJ determined Petitioner could
perform the requirements of representative occupations such
as laundry worker, marker or pricer, and cashier II.
bears the burden of showing that disability benefits are
proper because of the inability “to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment 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); see also 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(A); Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920,
921 (9th Cir. 1971). An individual will be determined to be
disabled only if her physical or mental impairments are of
such severity that she not only cannot do her previous work
but is unable, considering her age, education, and work
experience, to engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work that exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C.
review, the Court is instructed to uphold the decision of the
Commissioner if the decision is supported by substantial
evidence and is not the product of legal error. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Universal Camera Corp. v. Nat'l Labor
Relations Bd., 340 U.S. 474 (1951); Meanel v.
Apfel, 172 F.3d 1111, 1113 (9th Cir. 1999) (as amended);
DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir.
1991). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence a
reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971). It is more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance, Jamerson v ...