United States District Court, D. Maine
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
C. NIVISON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Plaintiff Margiejo Laliberte's application for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
Defendant, the Social Security Administration Commissioner,
found that Plaintiff has severe impairments, but retains the
functional capacity to perform past relevant work and other
substantial gainful activity. Defendant, therefore, denied
Plaintiff's request for disability benefits. Plaintiff
filed this action to obtain judicial review of
Defendant's final administrative decision pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
a review of the record, and after consideration of the
parties' arguments, the Court affirms the administrative
Commissioner's final decision is the April 27, 2016,
decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (ECF No.
6-2.) The ALJ's decision tracks the familiar
five-step sequential evaluation process for analyzing social
security disability claims, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
found that Plaintiff has severe, but non-listing-level
impairments consisting of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and
carpal tunnel syndrome. The ALJ further determined that the
impairments limit Plaintiff's work capacity, but do not
deprive her of the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
engage in light work, provided she sits no more than six
hours and stands no more than six hours in a workday, never
climbs ladders, ropes or scaffolds, never is exposed to
unprotected heights or dangerous equipment, and only
occasionally climbs stairs or ramps, bends, stoops, kneels,
crouches and/or crawls. (ALJ Decision ¶¶ 3 - 5, R.
23 - 27.)
also found that with her RFC, Plaintiff is able to perform
past relevant work as a cashier and/or office worker.
(Id. ¶ 6, R. 30.) Alternatively, based on
vocational expert testimony, the ALJ found that a person with
Plaintiff's vocational background and RFC would be able
to engage in substantial gainful activity in other
occupations, including the representative occupations of
retail marker, laundry worker, and mail sorter. (Id.
¶ 6, R. 31.) Given her findings, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not under a disability at any time between the
alleged onset date, June 30, 2011, and the date last insured,
June 30, 2014. (Id. ¶ 7, R. 32.)
Court must affirm the administrative decision provided the
decision is based on the correct legal standards and is
supported by substantial evidence, even if the record
contains evidence capable of supporting an alternative
outcome. Manso-Pizarro v. Sec'y of HHS, 76 F.3d
15, 16 (1st Cir. 1996) (per curiam); Rodriguez Pagan v.
Sec'y of HHS, 819 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1987).
Substantial evidence is evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a finding. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Rodriguez v.
Sec'y of HHS, 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981).
“The ALJ's findings of fact are conclusive when
supported by substantial evidence, but they are not
conclusive when derived by ignoring evidence, misapplying the
law, or judging matters entrusted to experts.”
Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999).
argues the ALJ erred when she failed to find Plaintiff's
anxiety to be a severe impairment at step 2, failed to give
controlling weight to the primary care provider's RFC
opinion that Plaintiff cannot perform even sedentary work,
and failed to evaluate properly Plaintiff's credibility.
(Statement of Errors, ECF No. 8.)
Step 2 Omission of Anxiety Disorder
argues that her anxiety symptoms severely limit her ability
to perform work activities. (Statement of Errors at 3 - 4.)
The ALJ concluded that the record evidence demonstrated that
Plaintiff's anxiety symptoms are well controlled by
medication and do not cause more than a minimal degree of
limitation. (R. 24.)
2 of the sequential evaluation process, a social security
disability claimant must establish the alleged conditions are
severe, but the burden is de minimis, and is
designed merely to screen out groundless claims. McDonald
v. Sec'y of HHS, 795 F.2d 1118, 1123 - 24 (1st Cir.
1986). The ALJ may find that an impairment or combination of
impairments is not severe when the medical evidence
“establishes only a slight abnormality or combination
of slight abnormalities which would have no more than a
minimal effect on an individual's ability to work even if
the individual's age, education, or work experience were
specifically considered.” Id. at 1124 (quoting
Social Security ...