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Richardson v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 19, 2014

DAVID RICHARDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Alan Stuart Graf, ALAN GRAF, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Floyd, Virginia, Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, District of Oregon, Ronald K. Silver, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Portland, Oregon, Lisa Goldoftas, SPECIAL ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff David Richardson 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). Plaintiff separately moves to remand the case back to the Commissioner based on new evidence. I grant the Motion to Remand pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Thus, I do not resolve the issues raised by Plaintiff in the initial appeal of the Commissioner's decision.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for DIB on August 18, 2009, alleging an onset date of January 1, 2009. Tr. 158-64. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 92-93, 102-05, 94-95, 107-09.

On March 22, 2012, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 46-91. On May 14, 2012, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 23-39. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 3-8.

Plaintiff timely appealed to this Court. After Plaintiff's Opening Memorandum and Defendant's Response Memorandum were filed, Plaintiff filed a separate Motion to Remand based on new evidence. Simultaneously, Plaintiff moved to stay the briefing on the original appeal. I granted the motion to stay the briefing. The parties then fully briefed the Motion to Remand. As noted, I do not resolve the arguments Plaintiff raises in the appeal of the ALJ's decision. However, I recite some of the factual background and outline the ALJ's decision in order to place the issues raised in the Motion to Remand in context.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on neuropathy of the feet and legs, and arthritis. Tr. 194. At the time of the hearing, he was forty-three years old. Tr. 33. He went through twelfth grade, but did not actually graduate from high school because he lacked a required English course. Tr. 59. He has past relevant work experience as a long haul truck driver, green chain offbearer, and retail salesperson. Tr. 33. 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 , ...


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