United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL D. NELSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Marie Ilene Pyzer (“Pyzer”), seeks review of the
decision by the defendant, Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”), denying her application for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits under
Title II of the Social Security Act (“SSA”). See
42 U.S.C. § 416(i) and § 423. For the
reasons explained below, the Commissioner's decision will
2, 2014,  Pyzer filed an application for benefits,
alleging disability beginning August 31, 2012. (Tr. 150-51).
Pyzer's claimed disabilities included diabetes, high
blood pressure, carpal tunnel, hand/wrist problem, high
cholesterol, acid reflux, digestive/metabolism problems,
sleep apnea, allergies, and heart problems. (Tr. 166).
Pyzer's application was initially denied on June 20,
2014, and then upon reconsideration on August 28, 2014. (Tr.
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which was held on February 17, 2016.
(Tr. 36-71). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on March 25, 2016. (Tr. 17-31). The
Appeals Council denied Pyzer's Request for Review of the
ALJ's decision on May 22, 2017. (Tr. 1). Pyzer timely
filed this action to set aside the Commissioner's
decision. (Filing No. 1).
was 40-years old at the time of the alleged onset date of her
disability, and 44-years old as of the date the ALJ issued
the decision. (Tr. 21, 31). Pyzer completed two years of
college in 2011 and previously worked as a sales associate,
an in-home caregiver, a youth supervisor, and as a
coordinator and program manager at an advocacy center. (Tr.
evaluated Pyzer's claim using the “five-step”
sequential analysis prescribed by the Social Security
Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). In
doing so, the ALJ found that Pyzer met the insured status
requirements of the SSA through December 31, 2018, and that
although Pyzer had worked after the alleged disability onset,
such activity did not rise to the level of substantial
gainful activity. (Tr. 22).
found that Pyzer had severe impairments of cervical spine
fusion, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and diabetic
peripheral neuropathy, and non-severe impairments of
earaches. The ALJ did not consider Pyzer's claims of
headaches and nerve problems because there were no medical or
clinical observations validating those symptoms. The ALJ
found that Pyzer did not meet the burden of proof regarding
specific impairments contained in the regulations. (Tr. 23).
considered Pyzer's obesity in terms of its possible
effects on her ability to work and perform activities of
daily living, and incorporated her limitations due to her
obesity into her residual functional capacity
(“RFC”),  which the ALJ formulated as follows:
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
she is only occasionally able to stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl. The claimant is able to perform work that does not
require the operation of foot controls or climbing ladders.
She is able to perform work that does not require reaching
overhead more than occasionally. She is able to finger
objects frequently. Finally, the claimant is able to perform
work that does not expose her to sustained and concentrated
extreme temperatures or vibration.
(Tr. 24). In making this RFC determination, the ALJ
considered all of Pyzer's symptoms and the extent to
which those symptoms could reasonably be accepted as
consistent with the objective medical evidence and other
evidence, including opinion evidence. (Tr. 24).
considered Pyzer's testimony that she suffered from
fatigue and headaches, which caused her to stay at home about
one day per week. The ALJ also considered Pyzer's
testimony and reports regarding exhaustion, hand pain and
grasping difficulties, pain in her feet from neuropathy,
previous part-time work, improvement of her symptoms when
taking he prescribed mediation, and previous statements
regarding her ability to perform daily activities and to walk
and stand. (Tr. 27-28). The ALJ considered and discussed the
medical evidence in the record, although the ALJ did not
specifically discuss Pyzer's sleep apnea. (Tr. 25-27).
The ALJ found that Pyzer's medically determinable
impairments could reasonably be expected to cause some of her
alleged symptoms; however, the ALJ found Pyzers's
statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting
effects of those symptoms were not consistent with other
evidence in the record. (Tr. 24-25). The ALJ also considered