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Handley v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

July 30, 2018

CASSIDY RAY HANDLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         Cassidy Ray Handley (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's final decision he 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. Docs. 12, 15.

         After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, and the relevant authority, the undersigned reverses and remands the Commissioner's final decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).[1]

         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 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 68-78; see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4); see also Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step process). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) had the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease, status post right heel fracture, and anxiety;
(2) had no impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment;
(3) had the residual functional capacity[2] to perform light work and can lift up to twenty pounds occasionally, has the ability to stand or walk up to six hours, occasionally stoop, crouch, kneel, frequently handle objects as gross manipulation as well as frequently use his hands bilaterally to finger small objects, can understand, remember and carry out simple instructions only, and can maintain no more than occasional interaction with the general public;
(4) could not perform any of his past relevant work;
(5) could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy, such as electrical accessory assembler, inspector packer, ...

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