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Lowery v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 21, 2019

EPPERT LOWERY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Eppert Lowery (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's 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 David L. Russell has referred the 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. 12.

         After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, and the relevant authority, the undersigned recommends the entry of judgment affirming 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's 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 20-21; see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(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 impairment of “transient cerebral ischemia status post November 2013 cerebrovascular accident”;
(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] for light work with various additional restrictions;
(4) was able to perform certain past relevant work (PRW); and thus
(5) had not been under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act since his alleged onset date of December 22, 2014.

AR 12-18.

         2. Appeals ...


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