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Dotzauer v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

June 10, 2014

JACQUELINE B. DOTZAUER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1332

For Jacqueline B Dotzauer, Plaintiff: Tim D. Wilborn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Wilborn Law Office, P.C., Tim Wilborn, Attorney at Law, Las Vegas, NV.

For Commissioner Social Security Administration, Defendant: Adrian L. Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon, Portland, OR; L. Jamala Edwards, Social Security Administration, Office of the General Counsel, Seattle, WA.

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OPINION AND ORDER

Ancer L. Haggerty, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Jacqueline Dotzauer seeks judicial review of a final decision by the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). This court has jurisdiction to review the Acting Commissioner's decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). After reviewing the record, this court concludes that the Acting Commissioner's decision must be REVERSED AND REMANDED for an award of benefits.

STANDARDS

A claimant is considered " disabled" under the Social Security Act if: (1) he or she is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) " by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months," and (2) the impairment is " of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy." Hill v. Astrue, 688 F.3d 1144, 1149-50 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3); Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999)); 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining if a person is eligible for benefits. 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(a), 416.920(a). In steps one through four, the Commissioner must determine whether the claimant (1) has not engaged in SGA since his or her alleged disability onset date; (2) suffers from severe physical or mental impairments; (3) has severe impairments that meet or medically equal any of the listed impairments that automatically qualify as disabilities under the Social Security Act; and (4) has a residual functional capacity (RFC) that prevents the claimant from performing his or her past relevant work. Id. An RFC is the most an individual can do in a work setting despite the total limiting effects of all his or her impairments. 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1545(a)(1), 416.945(a)(1), and Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-8p. The claimant bears the burden of proof in the first four steps to establish his or her disability.

At the fifth step, however, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that jobs exist in a significant number in the national economy that the claimant can perform given his or her RFC, age, education, and work experience. Gomez v. Chater, 74 F.3d 967, 970 (9th Cir. 1996). If the Commissioner cannot meet this burden, the claimant is considered disabled for purposes of awarding benefits. 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(f)(1), 416.920(a). On the other hand, if the Commissioner can meet its burden, the claimant is deemed to

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be not disabled for purposes of determining benefits ...


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