United States District Court, D. Oregon
Merrill Schneider SCHNEIDER KERR & ROBICHAUX, Attorney
J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Renata Gowie ASSISTANT
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Sarah L. Martin, SPECIAL ASSISTANT
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Office of the General Counsel,
Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, United States District Judge.
Suzanne F. brings this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision to deny supplemental
security income (SSI). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3)). The Court reverses the Commissioner's
decision and remands for immediate payment of benefits.
applied for SSI on February 23, 2011, alleging an onset date
of February 1, 2011. Tr. 321, 115. Her application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 136, 143. On October
30, 2012, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 32. On November
29, 2012, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 101. On
May 16, 2014, The Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's
decision and remanded for further proceedings. Tr. 107-08.
Plaintiff appeared again, with counsel, for a supplemental
hearing before the ALJ on March 3, 2016. Tr. 113. On March
24, 2016, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 129. The
Appeals Council denied further review on February 27, 2018.
alleges disability based on borderline intellectual
functioning, neuropathy in her upper extremities,
hypothyroidism, goiter, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches,
and polysubstance abuse. Tr. 370. At the time of the hearing,
she was 43 years old. Tr. 57. Plaintiff did not complete high
school and has no relevant past work experience. Tr. 409,
claimant is disabled if he or 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), 1382c(a)(3)(A). Disability claims
are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. See
Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir.
2009) (in social security cases, agency uses five-step
procedure to determine disability). 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.
at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If
not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether plaintiff'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.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (RFC) 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 his 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. §§