GINA L. BRITTON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant-Appellee
Submitted, Seattle, Washington May 4, 2015. [*]
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. D.C. No. 2:11-cv-00314-EFS. Edward F. Shea, Senior District Judge, Presiding.
The panel affirmed the district court's judgment affirming the administrative law judge's denial of claimant's application for disability benefits under the Social Security Act.
The panel held that the ALJ reasonably weighed the medical evidence, and there was substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's determination that claimant was not eligible for disability benefits. Specifically, the panel held that the ALJ could have reasonably accorded little weight to a medical expert's opinion that claimant's condition equaled the listing of fibromyalgia. The panel also held that the ALJ provided germane reasons for discounting the testimony of a nurse practitioner. Finally, the panel held that the ALJ did not err by not including claimant's migraines in the examination of the vocational expert because substantial evidence did not support including the additional limitations caused by claimant's migraines in the vocational assessment.
Dana C. Madsen, Spokane, Washington, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Catherine Escobar, Assistant Regional Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, for Defendant-Appellee.
Before: Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Ronald M. Gould, and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges.
In 2007, Gina Britton filed for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, citing an assortment of ailments: fibromyalgia, migraines, generalized dystonia, and others. Because of her impairments, Britton claimed she could not work, could only drive " very short distances," experienced broken sleep, could only walk for five to fifteen minutes, could only stand for fifteen minutes, could only sit for a few minutes without adjusting her position, and could only lift five to ten pounds.
The administrative law judge found otherwise. He found that Britton could carry up to twenty pounds and could sit, stand, or walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday. Based on these findings, the administrative law judge determined that Britton could perform light work with significant limitations. Those limitations included one-day off per month for medical reasons, five percent of the work day spent off-task, no fast-paced settings, no exposure to moving machinery or heights, only superficial public contact, and only occasional interaction with coworkers and supervisors.
While the limitations excluded some of Britton's past jobs, a vocational expert testified that Britton was still capable of performing several jobs she had previously held: phlebotomist, sales clerk, waitress, and sandwich maker. Based on the testimony of the vocational expert that Britton could perform the above jobs, the administrative law judge denied Britton's application for disability ...