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Jones v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 15, 2017

DOUGLAS JOESEPH JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Douglas Jones, pro se.

          Billy J. Williams United States Attorney Janice E. Herbert Assistant United States Attorney, Jordan D. Goddard Special Assistant United States Attorney, Attorneys for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN JELDERKS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Douglas Jones (plaintiff) seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the Commissioner) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act. Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, the decision is AFFIRMED.

         Procedural Background

         Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB on May 17, 2012, alleging disability as of October 31, 2010 due to arthritis, numbness in his foot and ankle, depression, poor mood, gout, and pre-diabetes. Tr. 11, 146-56, 219. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and he requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Tr. 78-87, 88-101. On April 22, 2014, a hearing was held before ALJ John Michaelsen. Tr. 29-76. At the hearing, plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to April 20, 2012. Tr. 11, 34.

         On June 12, 2014, ALJ Michaelsen issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 11-28. The Appeals Council denied plaintiffs request for review, and the ALJ's decision became the final order of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-6. This appeal followed.

         Background

         Born in May, 1960, plaintiff was 51 years old on his amended alleged onset date. Tr. 148. He speaks English and completed the tenth grade. Tr. 60. He has past work experience as a cook and as a kitchen manager. Tr. 65, 226-27. Plaintiff is a veteran of the United States Army, having served from May 1978 to May 1979 as a supply clerk. Tr. 226, 506.

         Disability Analysis

         A claimant is disabled if he or she is 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). "Social Security Regulations set out a five-step sequential process for determining whether an applicant is disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act." Keyserv. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin, 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Bowen v. Yuckeit 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). Each step is potentially dispositive. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4); 416.920(a)(4). The five-step sequential process asks the following series of questions:

1. Is the claimant performing "substantial gainful activity?" 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). This activity is work involving significant mental or physical duties done or intended to be done for pay or profit. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1510. If the claimant is performing such work, she is not disabled within the meaning of the Act. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful activity, the analysis proceeds to step two.
2. Is the claimant's impairment "severe" under the Commissioner's regulations? 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). Unless expected to result in death, an impairment is "severe" if it significantly limits the claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521(a). This impairment must have lasted or must be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1509. If the claimant does not have a severe impairment, the analysis ends. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant has a severe impairment, the analysis proceeds to step three.
3. Does the claimant's severe impairment "meet or equal" one or more of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, then the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. ยง 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If the impairment does not meet or equal one or more of the listed impairments, the analysis proceeds beyond step three. At that point, the ALJ must evaluate medical and other relevant evidence to assess and determine the claimant's "residual functional capacity" ("RFC"). This is an assessment of work-related activities that the claimant may still perform on a regular and continuing basis, despite any limitations imposed by his or her impairments. ...

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