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Myler v. Commissioner Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

October 31, 2014

JANET L. MYLER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

DREW L. JOHNSON, Eugene, Oregon, JOHN E. HAAPALA, JR. Eugene, Oregon, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, RONALD K. SILVER, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, Oregon, GERALD J, HILL, Social Security Administration Office of the General Counsel, Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

MALCOLM F. MARSH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Janet L. Myler, brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the Commissioner) denying her application for supplemental security income (SSI) disability benefits under Title XVI of the Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, 1381-1383f. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons set forth below, I reverse the final decision of the Commissioner and remand for an immediate calculation of benefits.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff protectively filed the instant application for SSI on January 20, 2010, alleging disability due to diabetes, neuropathy, and chronic nausea. Tr. 118. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) presided over a hearing on May 23, 2012, at which Plaintiff testified and was represented by counsel. Tr. 35-51. On June 6, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's claim. The Appeals Council declined review and Plaintiff timely appealed to this Court.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Born on February 5, 1968, Plaintiff was 41 years old on the application date and 44 years old on the date of the hearing. Tr. 128. Plaintiff has a high-school equivalency and no past relevant work. Tr. 25, 119. Plaintiff initially alleged her conditions became disabling on January 1, 2001, but later amended her alleged onset date of disability to January 20, 2010, the application date. Tr. 36-37, 128.

In addition to her hearing testimony, Plaintiff submitted an Adult Function Report dated March 14, 2010. Tr. 132-39. On March 30, 2010, Dorothy Anderson, Ph.D., reviewed Plaintiff's medical records and submitted a Psychiatric Review Technique. Tr. 330-42. Linda L. Jensen, M.D., reviewed Plaintiff's medical records and submitted a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. Tr. 344-51. Rodney D. McDowell, LCSW, Plaintiff's primary mental-health treatment provider, completed a Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment and submitted a letter detailing Plaintiff's psychological conditions and describing her treatment history. Tr. 361-66. Prachi R. Garodia, M.D., Plaintiff's primary care provider, submitted a letter detailing Plaintiff's medical conditions. Tr. 367.

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. § 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 Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date, January 20, 2010. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(b), 416.971 et seq. ; Tr. 15.

At Step Two the ALJ determined Plaintiff's diabetes mellitus with peripheral neuropathy in the lower extremities, depression, anxiety, right carpal tunnel syndrome post release, mild bilateral ulnar neuropathy at the elbows, recurrent nausea and vomiting, and marijuana dependence were severe impairments. See 20 C. F. R. § 416.920(c); Tr. 15-16.

At Step Three the ALJ determined Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal any listed impairment. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925, 416.926; Tr. 16.

The ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work, but further limited Plaintiff to "unskilled work involving routine tasks;" never climbing ropes, ladders, and scaffolds; occasionally climbing ramps and stairs; frequently balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling; and avoiding concentrated exposure to hazards. In the ...


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