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Ferarri v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

August 17, 2017

LAURI A. FERARRI, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge

         I. SYNOPSIS

         On November 3, 2014, the ALJ determined that Ms. Ferrari was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act. She appealed the ALJ's decision. On May 20, 2016, the Appeals Council denied her request for review, making the ALJ's determination the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. The Commissioner determined Ms. Ferrari has the residual functional capacity to perform past relevant work and other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, despite severe impairments, and, therefore, is not disabled and not entitled to SSI benefits. The Commissioner's determination is supported by substantial evidence and is not based on legal error. Thus, the Court denies Mr. Ferrari's Motion for Summary Judgment and enters judgment in favor of the Commissioner.

         II. JURISDICTION

         Although Ms. Ferrari's opening brief failed to include a statement indicating that the Great Falls Division of the District of Montana is the proper venue for this action, the record indicates when she commenced this action, she was a resident of Sun River, Montana, which is in the Great Falls Division. 42 U.S.C. 405(g); Local Rule 1.2(c)(3). The parties consented to the undersigned entering judgment in this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Fed R. Civ. P 73.

         III. STANDARDS

         A. Court's role

         Review in this case is limited. The Court may set aside the Commissioner's decision only when substantial evidence does not support the decision or the when the decision is based on legal error. Maounis v. Heckler, 738 F.2d 1032, 1034 (9th Cir. 1984). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Substantial evidence has also been described as “more than a mere scintilla” but “less than a preponderance.” Desrosiers v. Sec. of Health and Hum. Services, 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988).

         The district court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 530 (9th Cir. 1986). The Court may reject the findings not supported by the record, but it may not substitute its findings for those of the Commissioner. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999).

         B. Disability criteria

         A claimant is disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act if the claimant demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence that (1) the claimant has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months”; and (2) the impairment or impairments are of such severity that, considering the claimant's age, education, and work experience, the claimant is not only unable to perform previous work but also cannot “engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.” Schneider v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 974 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing 42 U.S.C. §1382(a)(3)(A)-(B)).

         The Social Security Administration regulations provide a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether a claimant is disabled. Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953 (9th Cir. 2001); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. The claimant bears the burden of proof for steps one through four, and the Commissioner bears the burden of proof for step five. Id. at 954. The five steps of the inquiry are:

1. Is the claimant presently working in a substantially gainful activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. If not, proceed to step two. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b).
2. Is the claimant's impairment severe? If so, proceed to step three. If not, the claimant is not disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c).
3. Does the impairment “meet or equal” one of a list of specific impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 220, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is disabled. If not, proceed to step four. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d).
4. Is the claimant able to do any work that he or she has done in the past? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step five. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
5. Is the claimant able to do any other work? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, the claimant is disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f).

Id.

         IV. BACKGROUND

         A. ...


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