United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
ORDER OPINION NO. 2015 DNH 009.
PAUL BARBADORO, District Judge.
Kayla Lynn Ellison seeks judicial review of a ruling by the Social Security Administration denying her application for supplemental security income ("SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, I deny Ellison's request and affirm the decision of the Commissioner.
A. Stipulated Facts
Pursuant to this court's Local Rule 9.1, the parties have submitted a joint statement of material facts, which is part of the court's record (Doc. No. 11). The facts relevant to the disposition of this matter are discussed below.
B. Procedural History
On January 9, 2012, Ellison applied for SSI, alleging a disability beginning May 15, 2010. She was 23 years old at the time and was working part-time at an externship as part of her continuing education to become a medical assistant. The Commissioner denied her application on April 16, 2012, and Ellison requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). On November 13, 2012, Ellison, her counsel, and a vocational expert appeared before an ALJ.
A month later, the ALJ issued an Unfavorable Decision, finding that Ellison was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. He determined that Ellison had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her application date of January 9, 2012, and he concluded that she suffers from the following severe impairments: "mood disorder not otherwise specified, diabetes, and obesity." Tr. at 87. The ALJ found that Ellison had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform "light work." Tr. at 89. He noted, however, that:
she can occasionally climb ramps or stairs but never climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; she requires the option to alternate between sitting and standing once per hour, but she will not require a break when changing positions and will be able to remain on task while changing position; she can only understand, remember, and carry out short simple instructions.
Tr. at 89. The ALJ concluded that Ellison could not perform any past relevant work, but he determined that there are jobs in the national economy that she could perform notwithstanding her RFC.
The Appeals Council denied Ellison's request for review, thereby making the ALJ's denial of her application the final decision of the Commissioner.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), I am authorized to review the pleadings submitted by the parties and the administrative record and enter a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the "final decision" of the Commissioner. My review "is limited to determining whether the ALJ used the proper legal standards and found facts [based] upon the proper quantum of evidence." Ward v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 211 F.3d 652, 655 (1st Cir. 2000). Findings of fact made by the ALJ are accorded deference as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. Id . Substantial evidence to support factual findings exists "if a reasonable mind, reviewing the evidence in the record as a whole, could accept it as adequate to support his conclusion.'" Irlanda Ortiz v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991) (per curiam) (quoting Rodriguez v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981)). If the substantial evidence standard is met, factual findings are conclusive even if the record "arguably could support a different conclusion." Id. at 770. Findings are not conclusive, however, if they are derived by "ignoring evidence, misapplying the law, or judging matters entrusted to ...