United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
Coon Scott A. Snell THOMAS, COON, NEWTON & FROST The
Thomas Mann Building 820 SW 2nd Avenue, Suite 200 Portland,
Oregon 97204 Attorney for Plaintiff
J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY District of Oregon, Renata
Gowie ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Thomas M. Elsberry
SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Office of the
General Counsel, Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION & ORDER
A. Hernandez, United States District Judge.
Kimberly S. brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying her application for
Social Security Disability (SSDI) under Title II of the
Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). I reverse the Commissioner's
decision and remand for additional proceedings.
applied for SSDI on October 1, 2013, alleging an onset date
of March 31, 2012. Tr. 186-87. Her application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 90-105; Tr. 126-30
(Initial); Tr. 106-23, 132-34 (Recon.). On May 10, 2016,
Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who found that Plaintiff was
not disabled. Tr. 14-39; Tr. 40-89. The Appeals Council
denied review. Tr. 1-6.
alleges disability based on having bipolar II disorder with
psychosis. Tr. 423; Tr. 427. She was fifty-three years old at
the time of the alleged onset date. Tr. 31. She has a high
school education and past work experience as an administrator
and secretary. Tr. 31; Tr. 52; Tr. 55.
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 under a
five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r of 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). 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.R.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment
meets or equals “one of a number of listed impairments
that the [Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe 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 to perform “past relevant work.” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant
can perform past relevant work, 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. §§
404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the
Commissioner meets the 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 determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since March 31, 2012, the
alleged onset date. Tr. 19. At step two, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff has the severe impairment of bipolar II
disorder with psychosis. Id. However, at step three,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet
or equal, singly or in combination, a listed impairment. Tr.
20. At step four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the
residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work
at all exertion levels as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1529 and SSR 96-4p, with the following limitations:
[Claimant] is able to perform simple routine tasks defined as
no greater than reasoning level 2. She is able to tolerate
few changes in a routine work setting, defined as a
predictable work routine with simple work-related decisions.
The claimant is able to perform work that does not require
public contact. She is able to have occasional superficial
contact with ...