United States District Court, D. Oregon
Merrill Schneider Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorney for
J. Williams, U.S. Attorney Janice Hebert, Asst. U.S. Attorney
Heather L. Griffith Special Asst. U.S. Attorney Office of the
General Counsel Social Security Administration Attorneys for
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
Jelderks U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Paula B., brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g) seeking judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security (“the
Commissioner”) denying her applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act (“Act”). Plaintiff seeks an
Order remanding the action to the Social Security
Administration (“Agency”) for an award of
benefits or, in the alternative, remanding for further
reasons set out below, the Commissioner's decision should
be REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.
was previously denied DIB on June 30, 2005. She protectively
filed a new application for DIB on August 31, 2012, alleging
disability beginning March 3, 2004. After her claim was
denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff timely
requested an administrative hearing.
March 7, 2014, a hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Glenn G. Meyers. Plaintiff appeared
unrepresented by counsel. Based on evidence presented at that
hearing, the ALJ determined that a supplemental hearing was
necessary, which was held on May 8, 2015. Plaintiff was
represented by counsel, and Carolyn Kay Wise, a vocational
expert (“VE”), testified at the second hearing.
decision dated June 23, 2015, ALJ Meyers found Plaintiff was
not disabled within the meaning of the Act.
January 17, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. In the present action,
Plaintiff challenges that decision.
was born in 1957 and was 52 years old on the date she was
last insured for DIB. Tr. 117. She completed high school and
has past relevant work experience as a bindery worker and
technician. Tr. 102, 363. Plaintiff alleges disability due to
depression, anxiety, arthritis, left-hand derangement,
“status post lumbar hemilaminectomy, ” and
bipolar disorder. Tr. 25, 235.
engages in a five-step sequential inquiry to determine
whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The five-step sequential inquiry
is summarized below, as described in Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999).
One. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant is
engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”).
A claimant engaged in such activity is not disabled. If the
claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the
Commissioner proceeds to evaluate the claimant's case
under step two. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b).
Two. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant
has one or more severe impairments. A claimant who does not
have such an impairment is not disabled. If the claimant has
a severe impairment, the Commissioner proceeds to evaluate
the claimant's case under step three. 20 C.F.R. §
Three. Disability cannot be based solely on a severe
impairment; therefore, the Commissioner next determines
whether the claimant's impairment “meets or
equals” one of the presumptively disabling impairments
listed in the Agency regulations, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. A claimant who has an impairment that meets a
listing is presumed disabled under the Act. If the
claimant's impairment does not meet or equal an
impairment listed in the regulations, the Commissioner's
evaluation of the claimant's case proceeds under step
four. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d).
Four. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant
is able to perform relevant work he or she has done in the
past. A claimant who can perform past relevant work is not
disabled. If the claimant demonstrates he or she cannot do
work performed in the past, the Commissioner's evaluation
of the claimant's case proceeds under step five. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(f).
Five. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant
is able to do any other work. A claimant who cannot perform
other work is disabled. If the Commissioner finds that the
claimant is able to do other work, the Commissioner must show
that a significant number of jobs exist in the national
economy that the claimant is able to do. The Commissioner may
satisfy this burden through the testimony of a VE or by
reference to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2. If the Commissioner
demonstrates that a significant number of jobs exist in the
national economy that the claimant can do, the claimant is
not disabled. If the Commissioner does not meet this burden,
the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)(1).
steps one through four, the burden of proof is on the
claimant. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098. At step five,
the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the
claimant can perform jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy. Id.