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Deluca v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

July 31, 2015

GARY A. DELUCA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

BRIAN MORRIS, District Judge.

I.SYNOPSIS

Plaintiff Gary A. Deluca seeks judicial review of the determination of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin ("Commissioner"), the acting Commissioner of Social Security, to deny Deluca's application for supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. Deluca moved for summary judgement on January 7, 2015 (Doc. 10). United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston issued Findings and Recommendations on June 23, 2015, recommending that the Court deny Deluca's motion and enter judgement in favor of the Commissioner. (Doc. 19). Deluca timely filed objections to the Findings and Recommendations, and the Commissioner timely filed a response. (Docs. 20, 21).

The Court will review de novo the portions of the Findings and Recommendations to which Deluca objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court will review for clear error the remainder of the Findings and Recommendations. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).

II.JURISDICTION and VENUE

The Court possesses jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e) and Local Rule 1.2(c)(3). Deluca resides in Cascade County, Montana, which lies within the Great Falls Division of the United States District Court for the District of Montana.

III.FACTUAL and PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Court adopts by reference the background facts, administrative record, and procedural history as stated in the Findings and Recommendations. (Doc. 19). Deluca applied for supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits in January 2011. Deluca sought to establish that he had been disabled since April 2010 and was entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act. The Social Security Administration ("Administration") denied Deluca's claim on June 8, 2011. The Administration denied Deluca's request for reconsideration on November 4, 2011.

Deluca requested a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ conducted a hearing in November 2012, and issued its decision in February 2013, that Deluca did not qualify for benefits. (AR. 13-20).

The ALJ conducted a five-step disability evaluation process determining that (1) Deluca worked after the alleged onset date, but the work did not qualify as substantial gainful activity; (2) Deluca has severe impairments, including lumbar degenerative disc disease, left hip bursitis, right hand carpal tunnel syndrome, seizure disorder, colitis, and ulcerative proctitis; (3) Deluca's impairments did not establish a disability under the Listing of Impairments; and, (4) Deluca was able to perform past relevant work. Id. The ALJ did not reach step five because he found Deluca was not disabled at step four. Id.

Deluca sought review of the ALJ's determination from the Social Security Administration Appeals Council ("Appeals Council"). The Appeals Council denied his request for review on July 24, 2014. The Appeals Council's denial of Deluca's request for review made the ALJ's determination final for purposes of judicial review. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 404.1481.

IV.LEGAL STANDING

A claimant may seek judicial review of a final agency decision. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The Court conducts limited review, . The Court reviews de novo any part of the Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations to which proper objections have been made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

A claimant must satisfy two criteria in order to be found eligible for benefits under the Social Security Act. First, the claimant must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, or that has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a continuous period of time not less than twelve months. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 974 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A)); Second, the impairment must be of such severity that considering the claimant's age, education, and work experience, the claimant not only is unable to perform ...


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