United States District Court, D. Oregon
KELLY L. FORDHAM, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant
For Plaintiff: Robyn M. Rebers, Wilsonville, OR.
For Defendants: S. Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney, Adrian L. Brown, Asst. U.S. Attorney, Portland, OR; Leisa A. Wolf, Special Asst. U.S. Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
John Jelderks, United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Kelly Fordham brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the Commissioner) denying her applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under the Social Security Act (the Act). Plaintiff seeks an Order remanding the action to the Social Security Agency (the Agency) for further proceedings.
For the reasons set out below, the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.
Plaintiff filed applications for SSI and DIB on November 30, 2009, alleging that she had been disabled since March 1, 2007.
After her claims were denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff timely requested an administrative hearing.
On November 30, 2011, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) John Bauer. Plaintiff and C. Kay Wise, a Vocational Expert (VE), testified at the hearing.
In a decision filed December 19, 2011, ALJ Bauer found that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act.
On May 15, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. In the present action, Plaintiff challenges that decision.
Plaintiff was born on June 24, 1978 and was 33 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. She attended school through the tenth grade and participated in special education classes. Plaintiff has no past relevant work experience.
The ALJ engages in a five-step sequential inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act. 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520, 416.920. Below is a summary of the five steps, which also are described in Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999).
Step One. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A claimant engaged in such activity is not disabled. If the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the Commissioner proceeds to evaluate the claimant's case under Step Two. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b).
Step Two. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant has one or more severe impairments. A claimant who does not have such an impairment is not disabled. If the claimant has a severe impairment, the Commissioner proceeds to evaluate the claimant's case under Step Three. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c).
Step Three. Disability cannot be based solely on a severe impairment; therefore, the Commissioner next determines whether the claimant's impairment " meets or equals" one of the presumptively disabling impairments listed in the Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. A claimant who has such an impairment is disabled. If the claimant's impairment does not meet or equal an impairment listed in the regulations, the Commissioner's evaluation of the claimant's case proceeds under Step Four. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d).
Step Four. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant is able to perform relevant work he or she has done in the past. A claimant who can perform past relevant work is not disabled. If the claimant demonstrates he or she cannot do work performed in the past, the Commissioner's evaluation of the claimant's case proceeds under Step Five. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f).
Step Five. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant is able to do any other work. A claimant who cannot perform other work is disabled. If the Commissioner finds that the claimant is able to do other work, the Commissioner must show that a significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that the claimant can do. The Commissioner may satisfy this burden through the testimony of a vocational expert (VE) or by reference to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2. If the Commissioner demonstrates that a significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that the claimant can do, the claimant is not disabled. If the Commissioner does not meet this burden, the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)(1).
At Steps One through Four, the burden of proof is on the claimant. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098. At Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant can perform jobs that ...