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Johnson v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

January 5, 2015

DAVID L. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

George J. Wall, LAW OFFICES OF GEORGE J. WALL, Portland, OR, Attorney for Plaintiff

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, District of Oregon Ronald K. Silver, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, DISTRICT OF OREGON Portland, OR, Erin F. Highland, Special Assistant United States Attorney, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of the General Counsel Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNNDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff David Johnson brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). For the reasons that follow, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed in part and reversed in part.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB on August 7, 2010. Tr. 80-82. His application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 83-86, 90-92. On May 14, 2012, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 28-57. At the hearing, Plaintiff requested a closed period decision from April 30, 2010 to October 1, 2011. Tr. 32-33. On June 14, 2012, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 14-23. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-6.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on rotator cuff injury, shoulder injury, and depression. Tr. 157. He was fifty-five years old at the time of the administrative hearing. Tr. 59. He completed one year of college. Tr. 158. He has past work experience as an electrician, oiler/crane operator, electrical helper, store manager, roustabout, and night manager/cashier. Tr. 174. Because the parties are familiar with the medical and other evidence in the record, the Court refers to any additional relevant facts in the discussion section below.

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 e.g., Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). 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, 482 U.S. 137 at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.

In 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. §§ 404.1520(d), 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.

In step four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant, despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional capacity to perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 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. In step five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform other work. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets his burden and proves that ...


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