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Osier v. Commissioner Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 4, 2017


          GEORGE J. WALL Attorney for Plaintiff

          BILLY J. WILLIAMS, United States Attorney District of Oregon, JANICE E. HEBERT Assistant United States Attorney LEISA A. WOLF Attorneys for Defendant



         Plaintiff Shelly Osier seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") disability benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). For the reasons that follow, I reverse and remand the Commissioner's decision for further administrative proceedings.


         Plaintiff protectively filed her application for SSI on September 20, 2012, alleging disability beginning August 1, 2003, due to fatigue, cerebral palsy, lumbago, foot pain, post traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), anxiety, and depression. Tr. Soc. Sec. Admin. R. ("Ti\") at 73, 199, ECF No. 9. Plaintiffs claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an administrative lawjudge ("ALJ"). The ALJ held a hearing on December 23, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with her attorney and testified. A vocational expert, Stephen R. Cardinal, also appeared at the hearing and testified. On January 23, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review, and therefore, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of review.

         Plaintiff was born in 1965, and was 47 years old on the date her application was filed. Plaintiff completed high school. Plaintiff has past relevant work as a housekeeper. Tr. 29. Plaintiff also has worked as a janitor, an appointment setter, a dog washer, a dishwasher, a front desk clerk at a motel, and packer, but these jobs did not qualify as past relevant work. Tr, 101, 200, 206.


         The Commissioner lias established a five-step sequential process for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v. Yucketi, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. Each step is potentially dispositive, The claimant bears the burden of proof at steps one through four. See Valentine v. Commissioner Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009); Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir, 1999). At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant can do other work which exists in the national economy. Hill v. Aslrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012).

         At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her application date. At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, depressive disorder, alcohol and substance addiction disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, lumbago, chronic pain, and congenital pes planus. At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments, or combination of impairments, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment.

         The ALJ assessed Plaintiff with a residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work with additional limitations:

She can stand and walk two hours total in an eight hour work day. She can frequently climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds. She can frequently stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. She can understand and remember simple instructions. She has sufficient concentration, persistence and pace to complete simple, routine tasks for a normal workday and workweek with normal breaks. She should have only occasional brief, superficial interactions with coworkers and the general public. She can accept supervision delivered in a normative fashion. She also should not be in a job that requires more than occasional verbal communication.

Tr. 23.

         At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform her past relevant work. At step five, the ALJ found that considering Plaintiffs age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, including such representative occupations as: small products assembler, electronics worker, and electrical accessory assembler. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a disability under the Social Security Act since September 20, 2012.


         On appeal to this court, Plaintiff contends the following errors were committed: (1) the ALJ erred by failing to find her memory impairment severe at step two; (2) the ALJ erred at step three in failing to evaluate whether Plaintiffs impairments are equivalent to listing 12.05C; (3) the AIJ improperly evaluated the opinion of Karla Causeya, Psy.D.; and (4) the ALJ erred at step five in finding Plaintiff can perform light work with additional limitations. The Commissioner argues that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial ...

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