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Parker v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

July 22, 2014

JOHN D. PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ROBERT E. JONES, Senior Judge.

Plaintiff John D. Parker appeals the Commissioner's decision denying his concurrent applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). I AFFIRM the Commissioner's decision.

PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Parker alleges disability beginning June 29, 2007, due to partial hearing loss, osteogenesis imperfecta, tom ligaments, affective disorder, remote history of drug abuse, sciatica, partial left thumb amputation, and headaches. Admin. R. 172. He alleges that pain in his back, knees, elbow, and neck limited his ability to walk, stand, sit, and lift. He also alleges difficulty handling small objects due to his partial thumb amputation. Admin. R. 172.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) applied the sequential disability determination process described in 20 C.F.R. sections 404.1520 and 416.920. See Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). The ALJ found that Parker's ability to work was adversely affected by degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, hearing loss, finger amputation, methamphetamine dependence in remission, and osteogenesis imperfecta. Admin. R. 24. The ALJ determined that Parker failed to establish the criteria for any of the presumptively disabling conditions listed in Appendix 1 of 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P ("Listing of Impairments"). Admin. R. 25. The ALJ found that Parker retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform less than the full range of light work. The ALJ determined that Parker could lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, sit six hours out of an eight-hour day, and stand two hours out of an eight-hour day. He further found that Parker could occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds and occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He could frequently climb ramps and stairs, and frequently balance. Additionally, the ALJ found that Parker should only have occasional exposure to excessive noise and that he required a sit/stand option. Admin. R. 26.

The ALJ determined that Parker could not perform past relevant work. Admin. R. 29. The ALJ then elicited testimony from a vocational expert (VE), who said jobs exist in the national economy that a person with Parker's RFC could perform. Admin. R. 25, 58. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded Parker was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Admin. R. 29, 30.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). The Commissioner's factual findings must be upheld if supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the record even if evidence exists to support another rational interpretation. Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193; Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1995).

DISCUSSION

I. Claims of Error

Parker contends the ALJ failed to accurately assess his RFC because the ALJ did not include limitations from Parker's partial left thumb amputation, did not consider and credit the determinations by the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Division that Parker was "Most Significantly Disabled, " did not credit Parker's own statements, and did not credit the limitations observed by Parker's father. Additionally, Parker argues that the ALJ's RFC finding is internally inconsistent. Parker also alleges the ALJ erred at step five of the disability determination process by failing to consider the opinion of Mark A. McGowan, MS, CRC, COMS, and erroneously relying on the vocational expert's testimony on the number of jobs available in the national economy.

II. RFC Assessment

A. Partial Left Thumb Amputation

Parker alleges the ALJ failed to include limitations from Parker's partial left thumb amputation in his RFC assessment. The claimant bears the burden of producing evidence and proving the functional limitations that make up a claimant's RFC. Roberts v. Shalala, 66 F.3d 179, 182 (9th Cir. 1995). Parker failed ...


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