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Overlandmiller v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

January 26, 2015

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Kathryn Tassinari and Mark A. Manning, HARDER, WELLS, BARON & MANNING, P.C., Eugene, OR. Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, and Ronald K. Silver, Assistant United States Attorney, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, District of Oregon, Portland, OR, Kathy Reif, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Of Attorneys for Defendant.


MICHAEL H. SIMON, District Judge.

Denis Duane Overlandmiller seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying his application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.


Mr. Overlandmiller was born on October 6, 1951. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, from June 15, 1970, to June 14, 1974. He worked for two decades as a photographer, both at a studio and self-employed, and in customer service at a grocery store from July 2009 to July 2010. On October 29, 2012, the Veterans Administration ("VA") determined that Mr. Overlandmiller was 50 percent disabled. His social security insurance coverage runs until December 31, 2015.

Mr. Overlandmiller protectively filed for social security disability benefits on January 3, 2011, alleging that his disability began on July 10, 2009. He claimed that his disability was caused by, among other things, interstitial cystitis, post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), major depression, thoracolumbar strain, and an inguinal hernia. Mr. Overlandmiller's claim was initially denied on April 28, 2011, and again upon reconsideration on June 23, 2011.

Mr. Overlandmiller then requested an administrative hearing before an ALJ, which took place on November 1, 2012. In support of his claim, Mr. Overlandmiller submitted medical evidence from several treating and examining sources, including Dr. Paula Belcher, an examining psychologist; Dr. Peter Schur, an examining psychologist; Dr. David Clinger, an examining physician with the VA; Dr. Jill Chaplin, an examining physician; Dr. William Mitchell, an examining physician with the VA; and Dr. John Gardin, an examining psychologist with the VA. Mr. Overlandmiller's wife, Cynthia Overlandmiller, also submitted testimony. The ALJ evaluated Mr. Overlandmiller's claim using the five-step analysis established by social security regulations.

A claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act if he or she is unable to "engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or 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). To determine whether an individual meets this standard, social security regulations ask five sequential questions, each of which is potentially dispositive. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; see Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); Keyser v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011).

First, has the claimant performed "substantial gainful activity" since his disability onset date? 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). The ALJ determined that although Mr. Overlandmiller worked at a grocery store after his alleged disability onset date, that activity was properly classified as an unsuccessful work attempt, and that Mr. Overlandmiller had not otherwise been gainfully employed during the relevant time period.

Second, is the claimant's impairment "severe" under the Commissioner's regulations? 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). At this step, the ALJ determined that Mr. Overlandmiller's interstitial cystitis, back pain, and right inguinal hernia were severe.

Third, do the claimant's severe impairments "meet or equal" one or more of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the "Listings")? 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). Here, the ALJ determined that none of Mr. Overlandmiller's severe and non-severe impairments were equivalent in severity to those in the Listings.

Fourth, what is the claimant's "residual functional capacity" ("RFC")? Is it sufficient to allow the claimant to perform his or her "past relevant work?" 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). The ALJ determined that Mr. Overlandmiller retained the capacity to do light work with some limitations-most notably, that he would need to take a bathroom break three times every hour. The ALJ also determined that, with that RFC, Mr. Overlandmiller could perform his previous work as a photographer, because that occupation (at least as Mr. Overlandmiller had previously performed it) afforded him control over the timing of his bathroom breaks.

Because the ALJ found that Mr. Overlandmiller could perform his past relevant work, she did not proceed to the fifth step of the inquiry-whether, taking into consideration his RFC, age, education, and work experience, other work exists in the national economy in significant numbers that Mr. Overlandmiller could perform. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v). Instead, in accordance with 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f), the ALJ found that Mr. Overlandmiller was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act through January 16, 2013, the date of the decision. ...

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