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Worley v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

May 1, 2019

MICHAEL WORLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Michael Worley (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the 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), 1382c. United States District Judge Charles B. Goodwin 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. 15.[1]

         After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, 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 (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 15-25; see 20 C.F.R. § 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 not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 17, 2015;
(2) had the severe impairment of a spine disorder with radiculopathy and other nonsevere impairments, including peripheral neuropathy;
(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 the full range of medium exertion work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(c);
(5) could perform his past relevant work as an automotive mechanic; and thus
(6) had not been under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act since ...

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