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Dickson v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

November 1, 2019

VIRGIL PAUL DICKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Virgil Paul Dickson (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 parties have consented to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Docs. 4, 14.

         Plaintiff maintains he cannot perform the jobs identified at step five of the sequential evaluation process. After a careful review of the record (AR), the parties' briefs, and the relevant authority, the court affirms the Commissioner's 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 to decide whether Plaintiff was disabled during the relevant timeframe. AR 817-28; 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). The ALJ found Plaintiff:

(1) had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from the alleged onset date through the last-insured date;
(2) had the severe impairments of obesity, diabetes mellitus, degenerative disc disease, hypothyroidism, asthma, depression, and adjustment 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 (RFC)[2] for sedentary work with additional restrictions;
(5) was unable to perform any past relevant work, but could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy such as order clerk, document preparer, and touch-up screener; and thus
(6) was not disabled between the alleged onset date and the ...

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