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Solorio-Cardenas v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 15, 2015

FABIOLA SOLORIO-CARDENAS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Fabiola Solorio-Cardenas Medford, Oregon, Plaintiff Pro Se

S. Amanda Marshall, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, District of Oregon Ronald K. Silver, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Portland, Oregon.

Nancy A. Mishalanie, SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel Social Security Administration Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Fabiola Solorio-Cardenas brings this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3)). I affirm the Commissioner's decision.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on July 20, 2009, alleging an onset date of December 31, 2002. Tr. 197-203, 204-07, 208, 210. Her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 99-102, 103-06, 122-24, 125-26.

On February 28, 2012, Plaintiff appeared for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 37-68. Although given the opportunity to have the hearing postponed so she could attempt to obtain counsel, she waived counsel and stated that she wanted the hearing to proceed. Tr. 39-43. On March 28, 2012, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 14-36. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-8.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on problems with her back, shoulders, neck, and eyes. Tr. 295. She also alleges disability based on depression. Id . At the time of the hearing, she was forty-seven years old. Tr. 44. She graduated from high school in Mexico, after which she completed two years of an executive secretary course, also in Mexico. Tr. 45, 46. She has numerous previous jobs, giving her a range of past relevant work experience. See Tr. 29 (ALJ's Opinion summarizing testimony and noting ten separate past relevant work experiences). Because the parties are familiar with the medical and other evidence of record, I refer to any additional relevant facts necessary to my decision in the discussion section below.

SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY EVALUATION

A claimant is disabled if unable 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), 1382c(3)(a).

Disability claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. See Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009) (in social security cases, agency uses five-step procedure to determine disability). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.

In the first step, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful activity." If so, the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). In step two, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant has a "medically severe impairment or combination of impairments." Yuckert, ...


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