United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
M. Rebers Robyn M. Rebers, LLC Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. Williams United States Attorney, District of Oregon Janice
E. Hébert Assistant United States Attorney Lisa
Goldoftas Social Security Administration SSA Office of the
General Counsel Attorney for Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Daniel Foley seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's final decision denying his application for
Social Security Disability Insurance (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits
under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-33, 1281-83f. Because the Commissioner's
decision contains legal error and the record is not fully
developed, the decision is reversed and remanded for further
has a high school education and was 54 years old on the
alleged disability onset date of July 1, 2010 (thus an
individual closely approaching advanced age), and was 57
years old (an individual of advanced age) when he filed his
application for benefits on September 16, 2013. Tr. 16, 23,
110, 112. Plaintiff's application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. A hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Vadim Mozyrsky
on October 22, 2015. Tr. 25. ALJ Mozyrsky issued a decision
on December 7, 2015, in which he found Plaintiff not to be
disabled. Tr. 20. Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals
council, but was denied, making ALJ Mozyrsky's decision
the final decision Plaintiff now challenges in this Court.
claimant is disabled if 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. §
claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure.
Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1395 (9th Cir.
1991). The claimant bears the burden of proving disability.
Swenson v. Sullivan, 876 F.2d 683, 687 (9th Cir.
1989). First, 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; see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment
meets or equals “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; see 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 can
still perform “past relevant work.” 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant can
work, he is not disabled. If he cannot perform past relevant
work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five.
five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can
perform other work which exists in the national economy.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; see 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e)-(f), 416.920(e)-(f). Here, the ALJ
considers the “vocational factors” of the
claimant's age, education, and past work experience,
along with the claimant's RFC, to determine whether the
claimant is capable of performing other jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy. Barnhart v.
Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 25 (2003); 20 C.F.R. §§
416.920(a)(4)(v), 416.960(c). If the Commissioner meets its
burden and proves that the claimant is able to perform other
work, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1566,
determined that Plaintiff met the insurance status
requirements of the Act through March 31, 2015. Tr. 18. At
step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. At
step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's congestive heart
failure, obesity, and lumbago were severe impairments.
Id. Furthermore, at step three the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal a listed
impairment. Tr. 19. Next, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
had the RFC to perform the full range of light work. Tr.
19-20. At step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could
not perform any past relevant work. Tr. 23.
five, the ALJ concluded that given Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, he had work skills that
were “transferable to other occupations with jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national
economy[.]” Tr. 24. Specifically, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's skills were transferrable to the
“representative occupation” of short-order cook
and he could also perform the jobs of production assembler,