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Dennis v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 20, 2015

VALERIE DENNIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Richard F. McGinty, MCGINTY & BELCHER, ATTORNEYS, Salem, Oregon, Attorney for Plaintiff.

Billy J. Williams, ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, District of Oregon.

Ronald K. Silver, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Portland, Oregon.

Jordan D. Goddard, SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Seattle, Washington, Attorneys for Defendant.

ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Valerie Dennis brings this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny supplemental security income (SSI). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3)). I reverse the Commissioner's decision and remand for additional proceedings.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for SSI on November 19, 2010, alleging an onset date of November 15, 2006. Tr. 12, 169-74. Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 79, 93-96, 82-92.

On October 25, 2012, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 29-62. On January 24, 2013, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 9-28. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-4.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, history of learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, and history of self-harm. Tr. 184. At the time of the hearing, she was twenty-two years old. Tr. 34. She completed the eighth grade and attended some of ninth grade, participating in special education classes. Tr. 36-37, 48, 185. She also completed some of the requirements for a GED. Tr. 36-37. She has no past relevant work. Tr. 56. Because the parties are familiar with the medical and other evidence of record, I refer to any additional relevant facts necessary to my decision in the discussion section below.

SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY EVALUATION

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), 1382c(3)(a).

Disability claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. See Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009) (in social security cases, agency uses five-step procedure to determine disability). 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. 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 plaintiff's impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal "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 ...


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