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DeYoung v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon

October 20, 2017

LAWRENCE DEYOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOLIE A. RUSSO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Lawrence DeYoung brings this action for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits. All parties have consented to allow a Magistrate Judge enter final orders and judgment in this case in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 73 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed and this case is dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         Born in 1955, plaintiff alleges disability beginning December 31, 2012, due to hearing loss, vision problems, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Tr. 162, 201. On April 17, 2015, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 15-28. After the Appeals Council denied his request for review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-6.

         THE ALJ'S FINDINGS

         At step one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. Tr. 17. At step two, the ALJ determined the following impairments were medically determinable and severe: “[g]laucoma; hearing loss accommodated with hearing aids; posttraumatic stress disorder; depression.” Id. At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff's impairments, either singly or in combination, did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment. Tr. 18.

         The ALJ next resolved plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at any exertional level, but with certain non-exertional limitations:

He can perform [jobs] that do not require near visual acuity. He can perform simple routine tasks. He can work in [jobs] that do not require direct work with the public. He can have superficial coworker contact. He can tolerate moderate noise levels and must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards.

Tr. 19.

         At step four, the ALJ found plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work. Tr. 26. At step five, the ALJ concluded plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs in the national and local economy despite his impairments, such as yard worker and tree planter. Tr. 28.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred by: (1) rejecting medical evidence from Gary Gaffield, D.O.; and (2) rendering an invalid step five finding.

         I. Medical Opinion Evidence

         Plaintiff asserts the ALJ wrongfully discredited Dr. Gaffield's medical opinion. There are three types of acceptable medical opinions in Social Security cases: those from treating, examining, and non-examining doctors. Lester v. Chater,81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995). To reject the uncontroverted opinion of an examining doctor, the ALJ must present clear and convincing reasons, supported by substantial evidence. Id. (citation omitted). If an examining doctor's opinion is contradicted by another ...


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