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Alcaida v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 22, 2014

LAURIE LYNN ALCAIDA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

ORDER

H. RUSSEL HOLLAND, District Judge.

This is an action for judicial review of the denial of disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 401-434. Plaintiff has timely filed her opening brief, [1] to which defendant has responded.[2] Oral argument was not requested and is not deemed necessary.

Procedural Background

Plaintiff is Laurie Lynn Alcaida. Defendant is the Commissioner of Social Security.

On February 9, 2010, plaintiff filed an application for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, alleging that she became disabled on April 16, 2009. Plaintiff alleged that she was disabled because of left ankle surgery, a broken tibia, stress, depression, physical therapy, and migraines. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. After a hearing on April 11, 2012, an administrative law judge (ALJ) denied plaintiff's claim. On August 2, 2013, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, thereby making the ALJ's June 21, 2012 decision the final decision of the Commissioner. On October 3, 2013 plaintiff commenced this action in which she asks the court to find that she is entitled to benefits.

General Background

Plaintiff was born on September 4, 1963. She was 48 years old at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff has a high school education. Plaintiff is married and lives with her husband and son. Plaintiff's past relevant work is as a casino cocktail waitress.

The ALJ's Decision

The ALJ first determined that plaintiff met "the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013."[3] The ALJ then applied the five-step sequential analysis used to determine whether an individual is disabled.[4]

At step one, the ALJ found that plaintiff had "not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 16, 2009, the alleged onset date...."[5]

At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had "the following severe impairments: status post ankle/foot surgery x two; depression; headaches; and status post right shoulder surgery x two...."[6]

At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff "does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1...."[7]

"Between steps three and four, the ALJ must, as an intermediate step, assess the claimant's RFC." Bray v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin. , 554 F.3d 1219, 1222-23 (9th Cir. 2009). The ALJ found that plaintiff

has the residual functional capacity to perform less than the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a). Function by Function: lift and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally; stand and/or walk for approximately two hours in an eight-hour workday; sit for approximately six hours in an eight-hour workday; frequent crouching and balancing; occasional climbing ramps and stairs, stooping, kneeling and crawling but never crawling or climbing ladders, ramps and scaffolds; frequent reaching with the right dominant hand and needs to avoid all exposure to hazardous machinery and unprotected heights. ...

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