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Parker v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 3, 2017

KELLY RENEE PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL,[1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendants.

          ORDER VACATING DECISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE

          WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ JUDGE

         This is a social security benefits appeal under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff Kelly Renee Parker (“Parker”) challenges the final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”), denying her application for disability insurance benefits. The denial was affirmed by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), who ruled that Parker was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. This appeal followed.

         For the reasons set forth below, the ALJ's decision denying Parker's application for disability insurance benefits is VACATED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Parker was born in 1966, and was 44 years old on the alleged disability onset date. (Admin. Record (“R.”) (ECF No. 11) at 62.) Parker completed high school and has previously worked as a disability advocate, advocacy coordinator, and mental health advocate. (R. at 76-77.)

         Parker filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on February 7, 2013, alleging that she has been disabled since June 1, 2011 due to multiple impairments, including: fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression, lupus, epilepsy, anxiety, seizures, back pain, and leg pain. (R. at 61-63.) Parker's application was initially denied and she requested an administrative hearing in front of an ALJ, which was held on February 26, 2015. (R. at 44, 77.) On March 30, 2015, the ALJ, Debra Boudreau, issued a written decision in accordance with the Commissioner's five-step sequential evaluation process. (R. at 27-39.)[2]

         At step one, the ALJ found that Parker had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. (R. at 29.)

         At step two, the ALJ found that Parker suffered from the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, obesity, seizure disorder, PTSD, and depressive disorder. (Id.)

         At step three, the ALJ found that Parker's impairments, while severe, did not meet or medically equal any of the listed impairments listed in the Social Security regulations. (R. at 30.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ assessed Parker's residual functional capacity (“RFC”). The ALJ concluded that Parker has the RFC to “perform a range of light work[, ]” specifically:

The claimant is able to occasionally lift and/or carry up to 20 pounds; frequently lift and/or carry up to 10 pounds. She can stand and/or walk for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday and is able to sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She is unable to climb ladders but can frequently climb stairs and balance. The claimant is able to occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She should never work at unprotected heights or in close proximity to dangerous moving machinery. She cannot engage in any commercial driving. From a mental standpoint, the claimant is able to understand and remember moderately complex instructions that can be learned and mastered within three months. She is able to sustain concentration, persistence, and pace for those instructions as long as social interactions are not frequent or prolonged. In that environment, she is able to tolerate work changes that are typical of the low end of semiskilled work; plan and set goals; tolerate supervision; and recognize and avoid work hazards.

(R. at 32.)

         Next, at step four, the ALJ concluded that Parker “is unable to perform any past relevant work.” (R. at 37.) Thus, the ALJ proceeded to step five and found that there was work Parker could perform in the national and regional economy, specifically, the unskilled jobs of outside deliverer (SVP-2), small parts assembler (SVP-2), and surveillance system monitor (SVP-2). (R. at 37-38.)[3]

         Accordingly, the ALJ found that Parker was not entitled to disability insurance benefits. (R. at 39.) Parker appealed to the Social Security Appeals Council, which denied review. (R. at 1-4.) Parker then timely filed this action ...


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