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Adams v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

June 18, 2018

JEFF ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Jeff Adams (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security's (Commissioner) final decision that he was not “disabled” under the terms of the Social Security Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 423(d)(1)(A). United States District Judge Scott L. Palk referred this matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (b)(3) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Doc. 14. Following a careful review of the parties' briefs, the administrative record (AR), [1] and the relevant authority, the undersigned recommends the court affirm 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 which 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 a different type of work and that such a specific type of job exists in the national economy. Id.

         C. Relevant findings.

         1. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) findings.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis in order to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled during the relevant timeframe. AR 15-30; see 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a); see also Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step process). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 19, 2015, the application date;
(2) Plaintiff's severe impairments include left knee impairment (status post-surgery 2012; left ankle impairment (status post-surgery 2015); left foot drop; and obesity;
(3) Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals the severity of one of the presumptively disabling impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;
(4) Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (RFC)[2] to perform sedentary work with additional non-exertional limitations;
(5) Plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work as a bar manager or bartender;
(6) Plaintiff could perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy including food and beverage order clerk, call out operator, and ticket counter; and
(7) Plaintiff had not been disabled, as defined in the Social Security Act at any time since February 19, 2015.

AR 19-30.

         2. Subsequent procedural history.

         Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, and the ALJ's August 10, 2016 decision stands as the final agency decision. See 20 C.F.R. ยง ...


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