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Iryna R. v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

July 3, 2019

Iryna R., [1] Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          George J. Wall Caitlin S. Laumaker Law Offices of George J. Wall Attorney for Plaintiff

          Billy Williams United States Attorney Renata Gowie Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Ta Lu Social Security Administration Office of the General Counsel Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER


         Plaintiff Iryna R. brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). The issues before the Court are whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred by: (1) finding at step two that Plaintiff's buttock abscess and resulting anal fistula were not severe impairments; (2) finding Plaintiff was noncompliant with prescribed medical treatment without following the procedures set out in SSR 82-59; and (3) discrediting the opinion of Michael Waddick, M.D., Plaintiff's treating physician. The Court affirms the Commissioner's final decision.


         Plaintiff applied for DIB on June 16, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of December 1, 2012. Tr. 314.[2] Plaintiff's date last insured was December 31, 2013. Tr. 22, 342. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on April 24, 2017, before ALJ Vadim Mozyrsky. Tr. 208. In a written decision issued September 19, 2017, ALJ Mozyrsky found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 20-29. On June 18, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review, rendering ALJ Mozyrsky's decision final. Tr. 1-3.


         A 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 according to a five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.

         At the 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.

         At step three, the Commissioner determines whether 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 conclusively presumed disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.

         At step four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant, despite any impairment(s), has the RFC to perform “past relevant work.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant can, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. At 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 its 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. §§ 404.1566, 416.966.


         At step one, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity between her December 1, 2012, alleged onset date and the December 31, 2013, date last insured. Tr. 22.

         At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: obesity, diabetes, glaucoma, leg edema, and varicose veins. Tr. 22-23.

         At step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff's impairments or combination of impairments did not meet or equal the severity ...

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