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Pinho v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

October 6, 2014

KATHERINE L. PINHO, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

Alan Stuart Graf, P.C. Alan Graf, Attorney At Law Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

Erin F. Highland, Social Security Administration Office of the General Counsel, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNNDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Katherine Pinho ("plaintiff") seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. This court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c). Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, the decision is AFFIRMED.

BACKGROUND

Born in January, 1959, plaintiff was 51 years old on her filing date of April 28, 2010. Tr. 145. She speaks English and completed the 11th grade. Tr. 31, 49. She has no past relevant work experience. Id. Plaintiff alleges disability as of January 1, 1993 due to asthma, enlarged heart, hepatitis C, bipolar disorder, depression, and learning disabilities. Tr. 145-50, 177.

The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application initially and upon reconsideration, and she requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Tr. 10. After an administrative hearing, held on December 6, 2011, ALJ Michael Kopicki issued a decision denying plaintiff's claim. Tr. 10-20, 25, 83-86, 94-98. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's subsequent request for review on June 21, 2013, making the ALJ's decision the final Agency decision. Tr. 1-6; 20 C.F.R. § 422.210 (2014). This appeal followed.

SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY ANALYSIS

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).

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. § 416.920(b). 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. § 416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.

At step three, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment meets or equals "one of a number of listed impairments that the [Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is conclusively presumed disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.

At step four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant, despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(e). If the claimant can, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. At step five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform other work. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets his burden and proves ...


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