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Arthurs v. Commissioner Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 27, 2014

JEFF ARTHURS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

MERRILL SCHNEIDER, Schneider Kerr & Gibney Law Offices, Portland, Oregon, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, RONALD K. SILVER, Assistant United States Attorney, ADRIAN L. BROWN, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, Oregon, LARS J. NELSON, Social Security Administration, Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

MALCOLM F. MARSH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Jeff Arthurs, brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the Commissioner) denying his application for disability insurance benefits (DIE) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. This court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons set forth below, I affirm the final decision of the Commissioner.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIE on June 29, 2009, alleging disability beginning June 15, 2008, caused by back pain and associated arm and shoulder limitations. Tr. 173. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on February 25, 2011, at which Plaintiff testified and was represented by counsel. Tr. 35-48. Joselyn E. Bailey, M.D., reviewed the medical record and testified at the hearing. Tr. 48-51. In addition, vocational expert Nancy Bloom was present throughout the hearing and testified. Tr. 52-57.

On March 24, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's application. Tr. 20-27. The Appeals Council declined review and Plaintiff timely appealed to this court. Tr. 1-3.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Born on April 12, 1956, Plaintiff was 52 years old on the alleged onset date of disability and 54 years old on the date of the hearing. Tr. 169. Plaintiff has a high school equivalency and past relevant work as a Machinist, Printer Repair Technician and Office Equipment Repairer, Assembly Worker, Maintenance Worker, Welder and Fabricator, and R.V. Repairer. Tr. 26, 178.

In addition to his hearing testimony, Plaintiff submitted an Adult Function Report, a Pain and Fatigue Questionnaire, and a Work History Report. Tr. 180-97. Amy Henninger, M.D., Plaintiff's primary care provider, submitted an opinion and Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. Tr. 316-20. Neal E. Berner, M.D., reviewed the medical record and submitted a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. Tr. 286-93.

THE ALJ'S DISABILITY ANALYSIS

The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert , 482 U.S. 137, 140-42 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a) (4) (i)-(v), 416.920(a) (4) (i)-(v). Each step is potentially dispositive. The claimant bears the burden of proof at Steps One through Four. Tackett v. Apfel , 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999). The burden shifts to the Commissioner at Step Five to show that a significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that the claimant can perform. See Yuckert , 482 U.S. at 141-42; Tackett , 180 F.3d at 1098.

At Step One, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff engaged in substantial gainful activity between the alleged onset date, June 15, 2008, and his date last insured, December 31, 2013, but that such work constituted an unsuccessful work attempt despite no evidence of special work accommodations, frequent absences, or unsatisfactory work. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq.; Tr. 22.

At Step Two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's back pain was a severe impairment. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c); Tr. 22.

At Step Three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal any listed impairment. See 20 ...


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