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Green v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 10, 2017

JASON WADE GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Donald V. Reeder Glenn, Reeder, Gassner & Carl, LLP Attorney for Plaintiff

          Billy J. Williams Janice E. Hebert, Thomas M. Elsberry Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jason Green brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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)). Because the Commissioner's decision was supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error, it is affirmed.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born on June 1, 1972, and was forty years old at his alleged disability onset date. Tr. 21.[1] Plaintiff has a high school education. Id. He has past relevant work as a grounds keeper, commercial/industrial cleaner, and lubrication servicer. Id. Plaintiff filed his application for DIB on September 6, 2012, alleging an onset date of August 1, 2012. Tr. 13. His application was initially denied on December 21, 2012, and upon reconsideration on April 15, 2013. Id. A hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) John Michaelsen on July 9, 2014. Tr. 29. ALJ Michaelsen issued a written opinion denying Plaintiff's application on September 17, 2014. Tr. 13-23. 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. 1-7.

         SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY ANALYSIS

         A 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.

         At 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). 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.

         At step 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.

         At step 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. §§ 404.1566, 416.966.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirement through June 30, 2017, and had not engaged in SGA since the alleged onset date. Tr. 15.

         At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder. Tr. 16. The ALJ considered other alleged conditions, including an injury to Plaintiff's right wrist, and concluded that they were non-severe. Id.

         At Step Three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. Id.

         The ALJ formulated the following RFC, finding that Plaintiff could perform a “full range of work at all exertional levels and the [RFC] to perform simple, repetitive, routine tasks requiring no more than occasional interaction with supervisors, no contact with the ...


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