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Clayton L. v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 21, 2018

CLAYTON L., [1] Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          Merrill Schneider SCHNEIDER KERR & ROBICHAUX Attorney for Plaintiff

          Billy J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY District of Oregon Renata Gowie ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

          Sarah L. Martin SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Office of the General Counsel Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Clayton L. brings this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3)). The Court reverses the Commissioner's decision and remands for immediate payment of benefits.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on September 6, 2013, alleging disability as of June 1, 2009. Tr. 19, 155.[2] His application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 190-94, 197- 202. On November 19, 2015, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 38. On January 21, 2016, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 31. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges disability based on ADD, a kidney disorder, chronic headaches, PTSD, depression, and a pulmonary embolism. Tr. 280. He was 39 at the time of the administrative hearing. Tr. 39. Defendant has a high school degree and some college with past relevant work experience as a fast food worker. Tr. 28, 281.

         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. ยงยง 404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets his burden and proves ...


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