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Moody v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

March 12, 2019

JAMES MOODY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         James Moody (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). United States District Judge Stephen P. Friot 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). 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'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 11-22; 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 his alleged onset date of June 14, 2012;
(2) had the severe impairments of gout; arthritis; schizophrenia, undifferentiated; major depressive disorder, recurrent, severe, without psychotic features; and cannabis abuse, unspecified;
(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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he can lift/carry/push and pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; he never can climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds or crawl; he can push or pull occasionally with the upper extremities and occasionally can reach overhead; and he can understand, remember, and carry out simple and detailed instructions;
(5) could perform his past relevant work as a laundry worker and a fast food worker;
(6) was not disabled. AR 14-22.

         2. Appeals Council's findings.

         The SSA's Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on May 9, 2018, so the ALJ's unfavorable decision is the Commissioner's final decision in this case. AR 1-5; see Krauser v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. 2011).

         II. Judicial review of the ...


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