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Fonseca v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 24, 2017

HEATHER KATHLEEN FONSECA, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          Lisa R.J. Porter JP Law PC, Attorney for Plaintiff

          Billy J. Williams United States Attorney

          Janice E. Hebert Assistant United States Attorney

          Sarah Moum Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A HERNÁNDEZ, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Heather Fonseca brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). The Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born in 1971 and was forty-three years old at the time of her administrative hearing. Tr. 31, 159.[1] She has a high school education and past relevant work experience as a housekeeper and office clerk. Tr. 29-30. She applied for SSI on August 7, 2014, alleging her disability onset date as June 1, 2011. Tr. 159-64. Her application was initially denied on October 29, 2014, and again on reconsideration on January 2, 2015. Tr. 69, 85. Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing which was held on June 30, 2015, before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Marilyn Mauer. Tr. 39. On October 8, 2015, ALJ Mauer issued a written opinion denying Plaintiff's application. Tr. 18-32. The Appeals Counsel denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's opinion the Commissioner's final decision that Plaintiff now challenges in this Court. Tr. 1-7.

         SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY ANALYSIS

         A claimant is disabled if she is 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). Disability claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.

         At 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). At step two, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or combination of impairments.” Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.

         At step three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal “one of a number of listed impairments that the [Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity.” Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is conclusively presumed disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.

         At step four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant, despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform “past relevant work.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant can, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. At step five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform other work. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. ยงยง 404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets its burden and proves ...


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