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Barnes v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 3, 2015

RYAN BARNES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Merrill Schneider, SCHNEIDER KERR & GIBNEY LAW OFFICES, Portland, OR., Attorney for Plaintiff.

Ronald K. Silver, Assistant United States Attorney U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, DISTRICT OF OREGON, Portland, OR.

Kathy Reif, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of the General Counsel, Seattle, WA., Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

MARCO A. HERNNDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ryan Barnes brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for supplemental security income (SSI) under Title XVI 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.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a prior application for disability insurance benefits and SSI on April 22, 2008. Tr. 18. Plaintiff alleged disability beginning December 31, 2006. Id. The claims were denied initially on September 3, 2008, and upon reconsideration on February 24, 2009. Id. Plaintiff appeared with counsel at a hearing in front of administrative law judge Caroline Siderius ("ALJ Siderius") on May 21, 2010. Id. ALJ Siderius found Plaintiff not disabled and Plaintiff did not appeal the decision. Id. Instead Plaintiff submitted a new application for SSI, which now forms the basis of this case.

Plaintiff applied for SSI on August 25, 2010, alleging disability beginning August 1, 2010. Tr. 18. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 80-89. Plaintiff failed to appear and testify at a hearing held on July 12, 2012 before ALJ Robert Campbell ("ALJ Campbell"). Tr. 18. Plaintiff's counsel was present at the hearing. Id. On August 29, 2012, ALJ Campbell found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 18-28. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-6.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on depression, a generalized anxiety disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and hearing loss in his right ear. Tr. 21. Plaintiff was twenty-eight years old at the time of the administrative hearing in front of ALJ Campbell. Tr. 156. He completed the 9th grade of high school. Tr. 160. Plaintiff does not have a G.E.D. Tr. 226. He has past work experience as a tree planter, dock worker, and janitor. Tr. 72.

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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