United States District Court, D. Oregon
Kathryn Tassinari Mark Manning HARDER, WELLS, BARON &
MANNING, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiff
Gowie Assistant United States Attorney District of Oregon
Sarah Martin Social Security Administration Office of the
General Counsel Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Timothy S. seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's
final decision denying his application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI). This Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3)). The
Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for
applied for DIB and SSI on November 26, 2014. Tr. 192,
Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of June 20, 2012.
Id. Plaintiff's date last insured is December
31, 2017. Tr. 213. His application was denied initially and
on reconsideration. Tr. 128, 133, 139, 142. On February 17,
2017, Plaintiff appeared with counsel for a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 36. On April 17, 2017,
the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 23. The Appeals
Council denied review. Tr. 1.
initially alleged disability based on sciatica, gout, lower
back pain, depression, obesity, and high blood pressure. Tr.
217. He was 37 years old at the time of his alleged onset
date and 41 years old at the time of the administrative
hearing. Tr. 21. Plaintiff has a high school education and
past relevant work experience as a caregiver, a
groundskeeper, a dishwasher, and a cook helper. Tr. 21-22.
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 Valentine v. Comm'r, Soc.
Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The
claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability.
one, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is
engaged in "substantial gainful activity."
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). If so,
the claimant is not disabled. 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. at 140-41. If not, the claimant is
not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c).
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.
four, the Commissioner determines if the claimant, despite
any impairment, has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If so, the claimant is
not disabled; if not, the burden shifts to the Commissioner
in step five to 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 his burden and proves 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 had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity after his alleged onset date of
June 20, 2012. Tr. 16. At step two, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's obesity, sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus, and
hypertension were not severe, but Plaintiff's
“degenerative disk disease” was a severe
impairment. Id. However, at step three, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's severe impairment did not
meet or medically equal the severity of a listed impairment.
Tr. 18. At step four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
the RFC to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
§§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with the following
limitations: “[T]he claimant can occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, and he is able to occasionally climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can also occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant
requires the option to sit/stand/change positions at
will.” Id. Because of these limitations, the
ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could not perform his past
relevant work as a caregiver, a groundskeeper, a dishwasher,
or a cook helper. Tr. ...