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York v. Commissioner Social Security Administration

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 6, 2013

JOHNNY S. YORK, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

KATHRYN TASSINARI, DREW L. JOHNSON, Eugene, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, ADRIAN L. BROWN, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, SUMMER STINSON, Social Security Administration, Office of the General Counsel, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

MALCOLM F. MARSH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Johnny S. York brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his applications for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433, and Supplemental Security income (SSI) disability benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons that follow, I affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On September 25, 2008, plaintiff protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI alleging disability as of August 1, 2002. The claims were denied initially and en reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a request Car a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). An ALJ hold a hearing on February 14, 2011, at which plaintiff appeared with his attorney and testified. At the hearing, plaintiff amended his disability onset date to February 3, 2007. A vocational expert also appeared and testified. On March 17, 2011, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for rev-err on July 2, 2012. The ALJ's decision therefore became the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes a review.

Plaintiff was 48 years old on the date of his alleged onset of disability, and 51 years old on the date of the nearing. Plaintiff completed ninth grade and has no further education. Plaintiff has past relevant work as a gas station attendant, a truck driver, and a sheet counter in a paper corrugation factory. Plaintiff alleges that he is unable to work due to low back pain, dizziness, blackouts, depression and difficulty sleeping.

THE ALJ'S DISABILITY ANALYSIS

The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process for determining whether a person is disabled. Bower v. Yuckert , 482 U.S. 131, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. Each step is potentially dispositive. The claimant bears the burden of proof al steps one through four. See Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin. , 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). At stop five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant can do other work which exists in the national economy. Andrews v. Shalala , 53 F.3d 1035, 1043 (9th Cir. 1995).

The ALJ concluded that plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the social security Act. through March 31, 2007. A claimant seeking DIB benefits under Title II must establish disability on or prior to the last date insured. 42 U.S.C. § 416(I)(3); Burch v. Barnhart , 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).

At step one, the ALJ found that plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 2007, the alleged onset of disability. See 20 C.P.H. §§ 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq., 416.92C(b), 416.971 et seq.

At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: chronic low back pain secondary to lumbar degenerative disc disease with central stenosis at L2-3; status post instrumented fusion L4-5, but no neurological deficits; and obesity. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(C).

At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff's impairments, or combination of impairments did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment, See 20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, 416.926.

The ALJ assessed plaintiff with a residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work except: reduced by occasional climbing of ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps and stairs, and occasional stooping. The ALJ found plaintiff retains the ability to frequently crouch, crawl, kneel, and balance. The ALJ found plaintiff is further limited to no public contact, and only brief occasional contact with coworkers, and is limited to tasks no more complex than unskilled entry level work as defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404, 1527, 404.1529, 116.927, 416.929.

At step four, the AL.; found plaintiff unable to perform any past relevant work. See 20 S.C. 404.1565, 416.965.

At step five, the ALJ concluded that considering plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform. see 20 C.t.R. §§ 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, 416.969(a). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff is not disabled under the meaning the Act.

ISSUES ON REVIEW

Plaintiff contends the ALJ committed the following errors: (1) failed to find his' depression and antisocial personality disorder severe at step two; (2) improperly discredited his testimony; (3) failed to properly consider the lay testimony; and (4) improperly concluded that he ...


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