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Sargent v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 23, 2014

ANTHONY W. SARGENT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Alan Stuart Graf, Alan Stuart Graf P.C., Floyd, Virginia, Attorney for plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, Adrian L. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, Oregon,

Jordan D. Goddard, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel, Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANN AIKEN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony Sargent brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act ("Act") to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI") and disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed and this case is dismissed.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 28, 2007, plaintiff applied for SSI and DIB. Tr. 136-43. Both applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 99-100. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). Tr. 106-07. On March 24, 2010, an ALJ hearing was held before the Honorable John Madden Jr.; plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified therein, as did Nancy Bloom, a vocational expert. Tr. 36-78. On March 26, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 19-34. After the Appeals Council declined review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-6.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Plaintiff was born on December 20, 1958; he was 47 years old on the alleged outset of the disability and 51 years old on the date of the hearing. Tr. 29, 41. After completing the tenth grade, plaintiff dropped out of high school and has not obtained a GED. Tr. 41. Plaintiff previously worked as a food deliverer, motel cleaner, apartment maintainer, store laborer, busser, kitchen worker, packager, and bartender. Tr. 69-70. Plaintiff alleges that he became disabled on August 27, 2006 due to chronic pulmonary insufficiency. Tr. 136.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Hammock v. Bowen , 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. N.L.R.B. , 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court must weigh "both the evidence that supports and detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v. Heckler , 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986).

The initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish disability. Howard v. Heckler , 782 F.2d 1484, 1486 (9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant must demonstrate an "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected... to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert , 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. First, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful activity." Yuckert , 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If so, the claimant is not disabled.

At 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), ...


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