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Johnson v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 28, 2014

RICHARD ERIC JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Lisa R.J. Porter, KP LAW LLC, Portland, Oregon, Attorney for Plaintiff

S. Amanda Marshall, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, District of Oregon Adrian L. Brown, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Portland, Oregon, Gerald J. Hill, SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel Social Security Administration. Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Richard Johnson brings this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny disability insurance benefits (DIB). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). I reverse the Commissioner's decision and remand for additional proceedings.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for DIB on April 19, 2010, alleging an onset date of June 1, 2009. Tr. 172-79. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 98-108, 116-120.

On October 11, 2011, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 39-90. On November 4, 2011, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 18-35. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-5.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on problems with his back and hip. Tr. 253-54. At the time of the hearing, he was fifty-four years old. Tr. 50. He is a high school graduate and has past relevant work experience as a warehouse worker and delivery driver. Tr. 28, 50. Because the parties are familiar with the medical and other evidence of record, I refer to any additional relevant facts necessary to my decision in the discussion section below.

SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY EVALUATION

A claimant is disabled if unable to "engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which... has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months[.]" 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(3)(a).

Disability claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. See Valentine v. Comm'r , 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009) (in social security cases, agency uses five-step procedure to determine disability). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.

In the first step, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful activity." If so, the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert , 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). In step two, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant has a "medically severe impairment or combination of impairments." Yuckert , 482 U.S. at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.

In step three, the Commissioner determines whether plaintiff's impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal "one of a number of listed impairments that the [Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity." Yuckert , 482 U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is conclusively ...


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