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.

Dunagan v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 18, 2018

SUSAN ANN SIMSHAW DUNAGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          Merrill Schneider Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Janice E. Herbert Assistant United States Attorney, Sarah Moum Social Security Administration Office of the Counsel Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          HERNÁNDEZ, District Judge

         Plaintiff Susan Ann Simshaw Dunagan brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). The Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for SSI on January 11, 2013. Tr. 21, 76.[1] Her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 93-96, 100-02. On June 16, 2015, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 32. On July 31, 2015, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 26. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges disability based on “Ddd, chronic pain, severe hypertension, history of uterine cancer, joint/heart problems, and depression with anxiety.” Tr. 162. She was 62 at the time of the administrative hearing. Tr. 38. Plaintiff has a high school education and past relevant work experience as a bingo hall cashier and attendant. Tr. 39-40, 163-64.

         SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY ANALYSIS

         A 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. § 423(d)(1)(A). Disability claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. See, e.g., Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.

         In 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). In step two, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or combination of impairments.” Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137 at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.

         In step 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; 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.

         In step four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant, despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional capacity 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. In 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 his 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 determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity after her application date of January 11, 2013. Tr. 19. Next, at steps two and three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: “cardiomyopathy, status post hysterectomy and uterine cancer, hypertension, rotator cuff strain and osteopenia.” Tr. 19. However, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of a listed impairment. Tr. 22. At step four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with the following limitations:

[Plaintiff] can lift and carry up to ten pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally. She can stand and/or walk approximately six hours out of eight in an eight-hour workday, with normal breaks. She can occasionally climb ramps or stairs. She can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. She should not work around workplace hazards such as unprotected heights and dangerous machinery. She can only occasionally reach bilaterally.”

Tr. 21. Taking into consideration these limitations, the ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff is capable of performing her past relevant work as a bingo hall cashier and attendant. Tr. 27.Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled. Tr. 27.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The reviewing court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if the Commissioner applied proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). “Substantial evidence” means “more than a mere scintilla, but less than preponderance.” Bray v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995)). It is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.

         The court must weigh the evidence that supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998)). The reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Id. (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)); see also Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001). Variable interpretations of the evidence are insignificant if the Commissioner's interpretation is a rational reading. Id.; see also Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193. However, the court ...


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.