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Boone v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 3, 2019

BETSY M. BOONE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          P. BRADLEY MURRAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for supplemental security income benefits. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by the Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), for all proceedings in this Court. (Docs. 18 & 19 (“In accordance with provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties in this case consent to have a United States magistrate judge conduct any and all proceedings in this case, . . . order the entry of a final judgment, and conduct all post-judgment proceedings.”)). Upon consideration of the administrative record, Plaintiff's brief, and the Commissioner's brief, [1] it is determined that the Commissioner's decision denying benefits should be affirmed.[2]

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental security income benefits on July 31, 2015, alleging disability beginning on February 1, 2004. (See Tr. 136-44.) Her claim was initially denied on September 18, 2015 (see Tr. 66 & 73-77) and, following Plaintiff's written request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (see Tr. 80-82), a hearing was conducted before an ALJ on June 29, 2017 (Tr. 28-52). During the course of the hearing, Plaintiff amended her disability onset date to July 6, 2015. (Tr. 39.) On October 12, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding that the claimant was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to supplemental security income benefits. (Tr. 15-23.) More specifically, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform heavy work with a few minor nonexertional limitations and, therefore, Boone could perform her past relevant light work as a housekeeper and, alternatively, has the residual functional capacity to perform those unskilled heavy and medium jobs identified by the vocational expert (“VE”) during the administrative hearing (compare Tr. 21-22 with Tr. 48-51). On November 17, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a written request for review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision (Tr. 135) and, on July 19, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Boone's request for review (Tr. 1-3). Thus, the hearing decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to GERD, chronic abdominal pain, peptic ulcer disease, and depression. The ALJ made the following relevant findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 6, 2015, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
The claimant testified that she babysat, but the record does not indicate that this work rose to the level of substantial gainful activity (Hearing Testimony).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”); and chronic abdominal pain status post H. pylori and peptic ulcer disease (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
. . .
3. The claimant 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 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
. . .
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform heavy work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(d) except the claimant is limited to simple, routine tasks with no only occasional changes in the work setting.
. . .
5. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a cleaner, housekeeping. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 416.965).
. . .
Although the claimant is capable of performing past relevant work, there are other jobs existing in the national economy that she is also able to perform. Therefore, the Administrative Law Judge makes the following alternative ...

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