United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Wall Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. Williams United States Attorney Renata Gowie Assistant
United States Attorney Thomas M. Elsberry Special Assistant
United States Attorney Office of the General Counsel Social
Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bernice H. brings this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision to deny disability
insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social
Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3)). For the reasons that follow, the Court reverses
the Commissioner's decision and remands this case for
applied for DIB on October 22, 2013, alleging an onset date
of November 8, 2001. Tr. 8. Her application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Id.
December 21, 2015, Plaintiff appeared, without counsel, for a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Id. On January 27, 2016, the ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled from November 8, 2001 through December 31, 2002, her
date last insured. Tr. 13. The Appeals Council denied review.
alleges disability based on a torn rotator cuff
(post-surgery), right knee arthritis, low back pain,
diabetes, asthma, and depression. Tr. 62. Her one office
visit from the relevant time period indicates that she had
bilateral knee pain, likely caused by osteoarthritis and
aggravated by obesity and trochanteric bursitis of the hip.
Tr. 245-46. Plaintiff's knee pain stems from an injury
she sustained after falling down a flight of stairs in either
1996 or 1997 while working at the Multnomah County Jail. Tr.
28-29. Plaintiff was fifty-nine years old at the time of the
hearing and was forty-six years old at the time of her
alleged onset date. Tr. 62. She has a GED and past relevant
work experience as an institutional and short order cook. Tr.
27-29. She was awarded Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
payments on a separate application. Tr. 53.
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. §§
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.
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 the 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 ...