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Jacob E. v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 19, 2018

JACOB E., [1] Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          BRUCE W. BREWER Law Offices of Bruce W. Brewer, PC Attorney for Plaintiff

          BILLY J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant United States Attorney MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel JEFFREY R. McCLAIN Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNA J. BROWN, UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jacob E. seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in which the Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES this matter.

         ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

         I. Prior Administrative History

         Plaintiff protectively filed his application for SSI benefits on November 7, 2011. Tr. 15. Plaintiff alleges a disability onset date of June 1, 2004. Tr. 15, 544. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on November 27, 2013. Tr. 15, 32-76. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the hearing.

         On December 12, 2013, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 15-26. Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council. On May 15, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request to review the ALJ's decision, and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-6. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).

         On July 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court for review of the Commissioner's decision. Tr. 612. That case was assigned to the Honorable Ann L. Aiken.

         On September 22, 2016, the parties filed a Stipulated Motion for Remand and agreed the court should reverse the decision of the ALJ, remand this matter pursuant to Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and allow a further hearing on Plaintiff's claim.

         On October 3, 2016, Judge Aiken issued an Order (Tr. 616) for Remand, entered a Judgment (Tr. 619), and remanded this case for a de novo hearing.

         II. Current Administrative History

         On December 19, 2016, following remand by this Court, the Appeals Council vacated the decision of the Commissioner and remanded this case to an ALJ for further proceedings. Tr. 627-29.

         On June 2, 2017, a different ALJ held further proceedings on Plaintiff's application. Tr. 544, 564-86. Plaintiff and a VE testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the hearing.

         On July 5, 2017, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 544-47.

         Plaintiff did not file exceptions to the ALJ's decision, and, therefore, the Appeals Council did not assume jurisdiction. 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(b) and (c). The decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the Commissioner on September 5, 2017. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d).

         On November 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court for review of the Commissioner's decision.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born on June 3, 1979. Tr. 556. Plaintiff was thirty-eight years old at the time of the last hearing in July 2017. Plaintiff has at least a high-school education. Tr. 556. The ALJ found Plaintiff does not have any past relevant work experience. Tr. 556.

         In his initial application Plaintiff alleges disability due to “marginal intellectual functioning, epilepsy, depression, and dyslexia.” Tr. 78.

         Except as noted, Plaintiff does not challenge the ALJ's summary of the medical evidence. After carefully reviewing the medical records, this Court adopts the ALJ's summary of the medical evidence. See Tr. 549-55.

         STANDARDS

         The initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012). To meet this burden, a claimant must demonstrate his inability “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). The ALJ must develop the record when there is ambiguous evidence or when the record is inadequate to allow for ...


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