United States District Court, D. Idaho
NANCY K. BUSS, Petitioner,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge
pending before the Court is Nancy Buss's Petition for
Review of the Respondent's denial of social security
benefits, filed on January 31, 2017. (Dkt. 1.) The Court has
reviewed the Petition for Review and the Answer, the
parties' memoranda, and the administrative record (AR).
For the reasons that follow, the Courtwill affirm the
decision of the Commissioner.
AND FACTUAL HISTORY
filed a Title II application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits, and also protectively filed a
Title XVI application for supplemental security income, on
September 11, 2013. These applications were denied initially
and on reconsideration, and a hearing was held on August 12,
2015, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Christopher
Inama. After hearing testimony from Petitioner and a
vocational expert, ALJ Inama issued a decision on October 14,
2015, finding Petitioner not disabled. Petitioner timely
requested review by the Appeals Council, which denied her
request for review on December 5, 2016.
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).
time of the alleged disability onset date of July 13, 2011,
Petitioner was fifty-one years of age. Petitioner completed
the eleventh grade, and her prior work experience includes
work as a dispatcher and cleaner/housekeeper.
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 had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date of
July 13, 2011. At step two, it must be determined whether the
claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ found
Petitioner's cervical and lumbar degenerative disc
disease, with a history of cervical spine surgery, and
migraine headaches severe within the meaning of the
three asks whether a claimant's impairments meet or equal
a listed impairment. The ALJ found Petitioner's
impairments did not meet or equal the criteria for any listed
impairment, specifically considering Petitioner's
cervical and back impairment under Listing 1.04 (disorders of
the spine). The ALJ determined Petitioner's impairments
did not meet or equal the criteria for the listed impairment
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. In assessing Petitioner's functional
capacity, the ALJ determines whether Petitioner's
complaints about the intensity, persistence and limiting
effects of her pain are credible.
formulating Petitioner's RFC, the ALJ considered
Petitioner's activities of daily living, and the medical
evidence of record. The ALJ found that, Petitioner's
statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting
effects of her pain were not entirely credible. Consequently,
the ALJ found Petitioner retained the residual functional
capacity to perform light work which included the ability to
perform her past work as a dispatcher and
cleaner/housekeeper, even after considering the following
limitations: never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds,
occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; avoid concentrated exposure to hazards and
refrain from operating automotive equipment.
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. Here, the ALJ found Petitioner retained the
ability to perform her past work, and therefore the ALJ did
not proceed to step five. Consequently, the ALJ determined
Petitioner was not disabled.
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 which 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 as a
reasonable mind might 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 ...