United States District Court, D. Oregon
Merrill Schneider Attorney for Plaintiff
J. Williams Janice E. Hebert Cortney Garcia Attorneys for
Cortney Garcia Social Security Administration 701 Fifth
Avenue, Suite 2900 M/S 221A Seattle, WA 98103 Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ United States District Judge
Robert Corwin Raymond, 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. The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). The parties
dispute whether Plaintiff is incapable of using a walking
assistance device, such as a cane, in his non-dominant left
hand, purportedly rendering him disabled. Because the
Commissioner's disability decision failed to determine
whether Plaintiff had the disputed limitation, the Court
remands this case for further administrative proceedings
consistent with this opinion.
was born on April 28, 1964, and was forty-eight years old
when the Commissioner's decision was issued. Tr.
Plaintiff has a seventh-grade education and has not earned a
GED. Tr. 84-85. He has past relevant work experience as a gas
station attendant. Tr. 106-07. On May 17, 2012, Plaintiff
filed his application for SSI, alleging that his disability
onset date was April 1, 2001. Tr. 132. His claim as initially
denied on September 13, 2012, and again upon reconsideration
on February 11, 2013. Tr. 132, 159. Plaintiff's first
administrative hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Andrew Grace on April 18, 2014. Tr.
77. After the conclusion the first hearing, ALJ Grace ordered
that an additional consultative medical exam of Plaintiff be
taken and a subsequent hearing be held. Tr. 20.
Plaintiff's second hearing was held on January 9, 2015.
Tr. 38. After the second hearing, the ALJ requested and
obtained additional evidence based on Plaintiff's
testimony. Tr. 20. On June 23, 2015, the ALJ issued a written
opinion denying Plaintiff's application. Tr. 31. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
making the ALJ's opinion the Commissioner's final
decision that Plaintiff now challenges in this Court. Tr. 5.
claimant is disabled if 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). Disability claims are evaluated according to a
five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant
bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
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). At 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.
three, the Commissioner determines whether claimant'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 presumed disabled; if
not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) 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. At 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 its burden and proves that the claimant is
able to perform other work which exists in the national
economy, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity ...