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Rodgers v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

September 13, 2017

RADONDA R. RODGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Radonda R. Rodgers (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security's (Commissioner) final decision she was not “disabled” under the terms of the Social Security Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 423(d)(1)(A). The parties have consented under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge. Doc. 17. Following a careful review of the parties' briefs, the administrative record (AR), and the relevant authority, the court reverses and remands the Commissioner's decision.

         I. Administrative determination.

         A. Disability standard.

         The Social Security Act defines “disability” as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or 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). “This twelve-month duration requirement applies to the claimant's inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity, and not just his underlying impairment.” Lax v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th Cir. 2007) (citing Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 218-19 (2002)).

         B. Burden of proof.

         Plaintiff “bears the burden of establishing a disability” and of “ma[king] a prima facie showing that he can no longer engage in his prior work activity.” Turner v. Heckler, 754 F.2d 326, 328 (10th Cir. 1985). If Plaintiff makes that prima facie showing, the burden of proof then shifts to the Commissioner to show Plaintiff “retains the capacity to perform an alternative work activity and that this specific type of job exists in the national economy.” Id. (citation omitted).

         C. Relevant findings.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis and concluded Plaintiff had not met her burden of proof. AR 30-42; see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512 & 416.920(a)(4); see also Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step analysis). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) was severely impaired, first, by status post gastric bypass surgery, second, by ulcers, third, by obesity, fourth, by adjustment disorder, fifth, by generalized anxiety, sixth, by depression, and seventh, by drug dependence;
(2) did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment;
(3) had the residual functional capacity (RFC)[1] to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she can lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, can stand/and or walk for up to six hours in an eight-hour workday, can sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour workday, can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, frequently can climb stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl, can understand, remember, carry out simple and detailed instructions, is limited to frequent contact with coworkers and supervisors and is limited to occasional public interaction;
(4) could perform no past relevant work;
(5) could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy, such as file clerk, bench assembler, and electrical assembler; and so,
(6) had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 30, ...

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