Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Youngs v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

January 11, 2018

GARY C. YOUNGS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN V. ACOSTA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Gary C. Youngs ("plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). Because the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence, his decision should be REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.

         Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed his application for DIB on June 19, 2012, alleging disability as of March 20, 2000. (Tr. 156-62.) The Commissioner denied his application initially and upon reconsideration and he requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. 68-85, 86-103, 114-15.) An administrative hearing was held on November 5, 2014. (Tr. 35-67.) After the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on December 12, 2014, finding plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 8-28.) The Appeals Council denied plaintiffs subsequent request for review, making the ALJ's decision final. (Tr. 1-4.) This appeal followed. Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by improperly evaluating the medical opinion evidence of record. (Pl.'s Opening Br. 2-20, Pl.'s Reply Br. 1-8.)

         Factual Background

         Born in September 1952, plaintiff was 62 years old at the time of the hearing. (Tr. 40, 156.) He speaks English and his highest education level is the twelfth grade. (Tr. 54, 82, 102.) He stopped working in March 2000 due to a shoulder injury, and has been unable to work after subsequently developing an anxiety disorder. (Tr. 40-41, 156.) Plaintiff alleges disability due to a damaged rotator cuff and disconnected biceps muscle in his right arm, an injured rotator cuff in his left aim, severe anxiety disorder and panic attacks, gunshot shrapnel in his right leg, a frontal foot drop, gout attacks in his knee and foot, neck pain and injury, foot pain, and permanent damage to his shoulder joint. (Tr. 68, 88, 181.)

         Standard of Review

         The court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol Edison Co. v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court must weigh "both the evidence that supports and detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v. Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). "Where the evidence as a whole can support either a grant or a denial, [a court] may not substitute [its] judgment for the ALJ's." Massachi v. Astrue, 486 F, 3d 1149, 1152 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).

         The initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish disability, Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486 (9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant must demonstrate an "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected... to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

         The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S, 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 404, 1520(a).[1] First, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful activity"; if so, the claimant is not disabled. Yuckert, 482 U.S, at 140; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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©. If not, the claimant is not disabled. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.

         At step three, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment meets or equals "one of a number of listed impairments that the Secretary acknowledges are so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity." Id; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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 can still perform "past relevant work." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e). If the claimant can work, he is not disabled; if he cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141. At step five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform other work. Id. at 142; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets this burden and proves that the claimant is able to perform other work which exists in the national economy, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1566.

         The ALJ's Findings

         The ALJ performed the sequential analysis. At step one, he found that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date. (Tr. 13.) At step two, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: cervical degenerative disc disease, mild carpal tunnel syndrome on the right, history of a gunshot wound to the right leg, history of right shoulder degenerative joint disease concerning the acromioclavicular joint, and anxiety with panic attacks. (Tr, 13-15.) At step three, the ALJ determined that plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a listed impairment (Tr. 15-16.)

         The ALJ next assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity ("RFC") and found that plaintiff has the RFC to

perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he is limited to no more than occasional climbing or bilateral overhead reaching, The claimant is also limited to no more than occasional pushing or pulling with his right upper extremity and with his right lower extremity. The claimant is limited to no more than frequent handling and fingering with his right hand. The claimant is also limited to occupations that require no more than occasional interaction with coworkers and the general public, Due to his reduced tolerance to stress and due to a noticeable increase in the frequency and severity of panic attacks when experiencing an increase in stress, the claimant would function best in a work environment where he is limited to simple, repetitive, routine tasks.

(Tr. 16-22.)

         At step four, the ALJ found that plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work as a warehouse worker and a laborer. (Tr. 22.) At step five, the ALJ found, considering plaintiffs age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could have performed. (Tr. 23.) Therefore, the ALJ concluded plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 23-24.)

         Discussion

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by failing to reasonably evaluate the medical opinion evidence of record. (Pl.'s Opening Br. 2-20, Pl.'s Reply Br. 1-8.) Specifically, plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by failing to properly evaluate the medical opinions of Dr, Robert Kaye, Dr. Paul Puziss, Dr. Rory Richardson, Dr. Roy D. Clark, Jr., Dr. Christian Kole, Dr. Charles ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.