United States District Court, D. Oregon
Merrill Schneider Schneider Kerr & Robichaux P.O.
Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. Williams United States Attorney Reneta Gowie Assistant
United States Attorney U.S. Attorney's Office District of
Oregon, Jordan D. Goddard Special Assistant United States
Attorney Social Security Administration, Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Anna Neiss 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. The Court has jurisdiction
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382(c)(3)). Because the Court concludes that
Plaintiff is disabled under Listing 12.05C, the
Commissioner's decision is reversed and this case is
remanded for an immediate award of benefits.
was born on November 10, 1963, and was 49 years old on the
date that her application was filed. Tr. 31. Plaintiff has
past relevant work experience as a cashier, self-service gas
station attendant, and fast food worker. Tr. 30.
Plaintiff's application was denied initially on March 20,
2013, and upon reconsideration on October 28, 2013. Tr.
93-108. A hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Moira Ausems in Kennewick, Washington on
April 14, 2015. Tr. 43-74. ALJ Ausems issued a decision on
September 22, 2015, in which she found Plaintiff not to be
disabled. Tr. 22-32. Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals
Council, but was denied, making ALJ Ausems's decision the
final decision that Plaintiff now challenges in this Court.
claimant is disabled if she is 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. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant
bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
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). 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(c), 416.920(c). If
not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether claimant's
impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal
“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.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) 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. At 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 its 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. §§
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since December 7, 2012, the
application date. Tr. 24 At step two, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “right
knee medial meniscal tear and chondromalacia; coronary artery
disease; and borderline intellectual functioning.” Tr.
24 At step three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets
or medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments. Tr. 24. Particularly, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's mental impairments did not meet the
requirements of Listing 12.05. Tr. 24-27. ...