United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
William J. Martinez United States District Judge.
a Social Security benefits appeal brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Plaintiff Whitney Houser
(“Houser”) challenges the final decision of
Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”), denying her application for
supplemental security income benefits and disability
insurance benefits. The denial was affirmed by an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), who ruled that
Houser was not disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act. This appeal followed.
reasons set forth below, the ALJ's decision is affirmed.
was born on September 13, 1962, and was 47 years old on the
alleged onset date of June 7, 2010. (Administrative Record
(“R.”) (ECF No. 11) at 86.) Houser graduated from
high school, completed two years of college, attended an
electrician's trade school, and served in the United
States Navy for approximately three years. (R. at 2792.) In
the last fifteen years, she has worked as an electrician. (R.
applied for disability benefits and supplemental security
income on October 30, 2014. (R. at 86.) Houser claimed that
she is disabled due to the following conditions: back pain,
traumatic brain injury, and torn rotator cuffs in both the
left and right shoulders. (Id.) Her application was
denied on February 24, 2015. (R. at 110.) Houser requested
and received a hearing in front of an ALJ, Terrence Hugar.
(R. at 15.) On February 1, 2016, the ALJ issued a written
decision in accordance with the Commissioner's five-step
sequential evaluation process.
one, the ALJ found that Houser had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since June 7, 2010. (R. at 23.)
two, the ALJ found that Houser suffered from
the following severe impairments: degenerative disc and joint
disease associated with the spinal column; bilateral rotator
cuff tendinopathy; diabetes mellitus; mood disorder;
cognitive disorder related to a December 2013 traumatic brain
injury; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); and a history
of alcohol abuse.
(Id. (citations omitted).)
three, the ALJ found that Houser's impairments, while
severe, did not meet or medically equal any of the
impairments listed in the Social Security regulations. (R. at
proceeding to step four, the ALJ assessed Houser's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”). The ALJ
concluded that Houser has the RFC
to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except the work should be with occasional
posturals except for no crawling or climbing of
ladders, ropes or scaffolds. The claimant should have no
exposure to hazards, such as unprotected heights and moving
mechanical parts. There should be no operation of motor
vehicles. The claimant is limited to frequent reaching in all
directions except overhead reaching which is limited to
occasional. The claimant can never overhead lift more than 10
pounds. The claimant is limited to frequent pushing and
pulling. The claimant must be limited to simple, routine and
repetitive tasks. The tasks must entail no more than
occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers and the
(R. at 27.) Then, at step four, the ALJ concluded that Houser
could not perform her past relevant work as an electrician.
(R. at 36.)
five, the ALJ found that Houser's RFC permitted her to
work as a small parts assembler, of which there are 1, 800
jobs in Colorado and 191, 000 jobs in the United States; and
as a conveyor line bakery worker, of which there are 760 ...