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Daley v. Commissioner of The Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

April 2, 2015

DAN M. DALEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JANICE M. STEWART, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Dan Daley ("Daley"), seeks to reverse and remand the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act. This court has jurisdiction under 42 USC § 405(g) and § 1383(c). All parties have consented to allow a Magistrate Judge to enter final orders and judgment in this case in accordance with FRCP 73 and 28 USC § 636(c) (docket #7).

Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, it is affirmed.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Daley filed an application for DIB on April 23, 2009, alleging a disability beginning September 1, 2008, due to diabetes mellitus II, severe neuropathy, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and blindness in the left eye. Tr. 100, 125.[1] After the Commissioner denied his application initially and upon reconsideration, Daley requested a hearing (Tr. 79-80) which was held on November 17, 2011. Tr. 37-62. On April 6, 2012, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Marilyn S. Mauer issued a decision finding Daley not disabled. Tr. 11-30. The Appeals Council denied Daley's subsequent request for review on November 18, 2013. Tr. 1-4. Therefore, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision subject to review by this court. 20 CFR §§ 404.981, 422.210.

BACKGROUND

Born in 1949, Daley was 58 years old on the alleged onset date. Tr. 135. He completed at least one year of college and served in Vietnam, earning a bronze star for his service. Tr. 41, 133, 167. Daley worked as an inventory control clerk and audit clerk until September 2008. Tr. 126, 619.

ALJ'S FINDINGS

Disability is the "inability 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 USC § 423(d)(1)(A). The ALJ engages in a five-step sequential inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act. 20 CFR § 404.1520; Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir 1999).

At step one, the ALJ found that Daley had not engaged in substantial gainful activity after the alleged onset date of September 1, 2008. Tr. 14. At step two, the ALJ found that Daley has the following severe impairments: idiopathic peripheral neuropathy of the hands and feet bilaterally; diabetes mellitus II, diet controlled; hypertension; and blindness of the left eye. Id. At step three, the ALJ found that Daley did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a listed impairment. Id.

The ALJ next assessed Daley's RFC and determined that he could perform sedentary work except that:

he requires the opportunity to stand briefly every 30 minutes, possibly walking away from the work area, but being able to return to work within five minutes. He must avoid hazards, such as ladders, ropes, scaffolds, unprotected heights, or moving machinery. He should never operate foot controls. He can frequently balance. He can occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl, kneel, and bend. He can frequently, but not continuously, use his hands to grasp and fine-finger. He should avoid exposure to extreme cold.

Tr. 15.

At step four, the ALJ found Daley could perform his past relevant work as an inventory control clerk and as an audit clerk as actually performed at sedentary exertion. Tr. 29. The ALJ therefore concluded that Daley is not disabled. Id.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The reviewing court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 USC § 405(g); Lewis v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 909, 911 (9th Cir 2007). This court must weigh the evidence that supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir 2007), citing Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir 1998). The reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 528 F.3d 1194, 1205 (9th Cir 2008), citing Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir 2007); see also Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir 2001). Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld if it is "supported by inferences ...


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