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Robben v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 4, 2019

MIRANDA ROBBEN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Miranda Robben (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Defendant Acting Commissioner of Social Security's 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 matter has been referred 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. 13.[1] Following a careful review of the parties' briefs, the administrative record (AR) and the relevant authority, the undersigned recommends the court reverse and remand the Commissioner's decision for further administrative development.

         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's findings.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiff's case applied the standard regulatory analysis to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled during the relevant timeframe. AR 13-28; 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 not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date of December 5, 2013;
(2) had the severe impairments of obesity, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, reactive airway disease, borderline intellectual functioning, and major depressive disorder;
(3) had no impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment;
(4) had the residual functional capacity[2] to perform less than the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a). Plaintiff is limited to lifting or carrying no more than 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently. Plaintiff can sit for six hours in an eight-hour day. Plaintiff can stand or walk for two hours in an eight-hour day. Plaintiff would need a sit/stand option, but she would be able to remain on task and attentive to duties at all times. Plaintiff cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and she is limited to only occasional climbing of ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Work would need to be simple, repetitive, and routine with occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors and cursory, superficial contact with the general public. Normal level of exposure to gases, fumes, noxious ...

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