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Parker v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 21, 2018

CHRISTINA L. PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Complaint [Docket No. 1] filed by plaintiff Christina L. Parker on May 19, 2016. Plaintiff seeks review of the final decision of defendant Nancy A. Berryhill (the “Commissioner”) denying her claim for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-33 and 1381-83c.[1] The Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 7, 2011, plaintiff applied for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Act.[2] R. at 59. Plaintiff alleged that she was disabled beginning November 7, 2011. Id. After an administrative denial, plaintiff appeared at an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on December 12, 2012. Id. On December 17, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying plaintiff's claim. R. at 68. On April 24, 2014, the Social Security Appeals Council vacated this decision and remanded the case to the ALJ to address several evidentiary issues. R. at 74. In particular, the ALJ was instructed to:

• Obtain additional evidence concerning the claimant's impairments.
• Obtain evidence, if needed, from a medical expert to clarify the nature and severity of the claimant's impairments.
• Further evaluate the opinion of Brett Valette, Ph.D., in Exhibit 3F and explain the weight given to such opinion.
• Further evaluate the claimant's subjective complaints and provide rationale in accordance with the disability regulations pertaining to evaluation of symptoms.

         R. at 15; see also R. at 74. On remand, plaintiff appeared at an administrative hearing on September 29, 2014. R. at 15. On October 15, 2014, the ALJ again denied plaintiff's claim. R. at 24. The ALJ incorporated by reference portions of his first decision and added analysis on the issues that he was directed to address on remand. R. at 19 (incorporating listing analysis), 20 (incorporating RFC analysis to the extent it is not contradictory), R. at 24 (incorporating analysis of plaintiff's ability to perform jobs in the national economy). The ALJ found that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: (1) attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); (2) learning disorder; and (3) low intelligence. R. at 17. The ALJ found that these impairments, alone or in combination, did not meet one of the regulations' listed impairments, id. at 18-19, and found that plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels with the following non-exertional limitations:

• The claimant is able to work in jobs where the claimant is not required to undertake complex tasks, with complex tasks defined as a skill level that exceeds [specific vocational preparation level two].
• The claimant is able to work in jobs where she does not have to utilize written instructions.
• The claimant is able to work in jobs where she does not have to write reports.
• The claimant is able to work in jobs where she does not have to handle money.

R. at 19-20. Based on this RFC and in reliance on the testimony given by a vocational expert (“VE”) at the December 2012 hearing, the ALJ concluded that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform. R. at 23-24. On March 24, 2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. Id. at 1-3. Thus, the ALJ's October 2014 decision is the final decision of the Commissioner.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Stand ...


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