United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
GARY C. YOUNGS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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.
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.)
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,
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
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).
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). 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. §
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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,
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.
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 ...