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Banks v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 3, 2015

SAMANTHA BANKS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

Merrill Schneider, SCHNEIDER KERR & GIBNEY, Portland, Oregon, Attorney for Plaintiff.

Billy J. Williams, ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Portland, OR, Ronald K. Silver, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY. Portland, OR, Lisa Goldoftas, SPECIAL ASISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, Social Security Administration Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

ORDER

MARCO A. HERNNDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Samantha Banks brings this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny disability insurance benefits (DIB) and 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 further administrative proceedings.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on January 14, 2011, alleging an onset date of January 1, 1995. Tr. 192-95, 196-01. Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 129-32, 140-42; 133-36, 133-44.

On June 7, 2013, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 31-63. On October 4, 2013, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 9-28. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-5.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges disability based on a back issue, asthma, depression, anxiety, and stomach issues/ovarian mass. Tr. 230, 278. At the time of the hearing, she was 29 years old. Tr. 194. She has a G.E.D. and has no past relevant work experience. Tr. 20, 231. 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 the 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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