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Toole v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

October 1, 2019

DAVID TOOLE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         David Toole (Plaintiff) brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision that he was not "disabled" under 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). See Doc. ll.[1]

         Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred during the last analytical step, when he concluded Plaintiff could perform work that exists in the national economy. After careful review, the undersigned recommends the entry of judgment affirming the Commissioner's final decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         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 that 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 u. 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 that 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.

         The ALJ assigned to Plaintiffs case applied the standard regulatory analysis to determine whether Plaintiff had been under a disability within the relevant timeframe. AR 17-32; 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). The ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) had two severe physical impairments, seizure disorder and asthma/very mild obstructive lung defect;
(2) did not have an 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 medium work but could never climb ropes, ladders, and scaffolds; must avoid exposure to workplace hazards such as dangerous moving machinery, unprotected heights, open flame, sharp objects, bodies of water, and the operation of any kind of moving vehicle, equipment, and apparatus; and must avoid ...

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