United States District Court, D. Minnesota
B. Nelson, and Thomas A. Krause, (for Plaintiff); and
D. Jenkins, Assistant Regional Counsel, (for Defendant).
E. Rau United States Magistrate Judge
Xee Y. brings the present action, contesting Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security's denial of her
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34. The parties filed
cross-motions for summary judgment and consented to a final
judgment from the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) and D. Minn. LR 7.2. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court denies Plaintiff's motion and grants
filed the instant action on December 2, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of September 11, 2014. Plaintiff
alleges impairments of: posttraumatic stress
disorder/depression; generalized anxiety disorder;
fibromyalgia/chronic pain; high blood pressure; high
cholesterol; stomach issues/ulcers;
vertigo/headaches/dizziness; arm/leg cramps/inability to walk
at times; insomnia; and kidney stones. Plaintiff was found
not disabled and that finding was affirmed upon
reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge. A hearing was held and, on March
15, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's
claim for benefits. Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's
decision through the Appeals Council, which denied review.
Plaintiff sought review in this Court.
The ALJ's Decision
found Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements on
December 31, 2014. (Tr. 20). Through the date last insured,
the ALJ found Plaintiff had the severe impairments of: mild
scoliosis and lumber degenerative disc disease; major
depressive disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; post
traumatic stress disorder; cognitive defects; and pain
disorder. (Tr. 20). The ALJ next concluded that Plaintiff,
through the date last insured, did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of a listing in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1.
(Tr. 21). The ALJ looked at Listings 1.04 (disorders of the
spine), 12.02 (neurocognitive disorders), 12.04 (anxiety and
obsessive-compulsive disorders), 12.06 (anxiety and
obsessive-compulsive disorders), and 12.15 (trauma- and
stressor-related disorders). (Tr. 21-23). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff has the residual functioning capacity
(“RFC”) to perform medium work with various
physical limitations and, with respect to mental limitations,
she was “limited to simple routine tasks, and may have
occasional superficial contact with supervisors, coworkers,
and members of the public.” (Tr. 23). The ALJ defined
“superficial” as “rated no lower than an 8
on the Selected Characteristics of Occupations'
people rating.” (Tr. 23). While Plaintiff could not
perform her past work, the ALJ concluded that there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that Plaintiff could perform when considering her age,
education, work experience, and RFC. (Tr. 28-30).
Accordingly, Plaintiff was found not disabled from September
11, 2014 through her date last insured, December 31, 2014.
benefits are available to individuals determined disabled. 42
U.S.C. § 423(a)(1); accord 20 C.F.R. §
404.315. An individual is disabled if she is unable “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); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). This standard is met
when a severe physical or mental impairment, or impairments,
renders the individual unable to do her previous work or
“any other kind of substantial gainful work which
exists in the national economy” when taking into
account her age, education, and work experience. 42
U.S.C.§§ 423(d)(2)(A); see also 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1505(a). Disability is determined according to a
five-step, sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. §
To determine disability, the ALJ follows the familiar
five-step process, considering whether: (1) the claimant was
employed; (2) she was severely impaired; (3) her impairment
was, or was comparable to, a listed impairment; (4) she could
perform past relevant work; and if not, (5) whether she could
perform any other kind of work.
Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929 (8th Cir.
2010) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4),
416.920(a)(4)). In general, the burden of proving the
existence of disability lies with the claimant. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1512(a); Thomas ...