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Larry A. Featherly v. Michael J. Astrue

June 23, 2011

LARRY A. FEATHERLY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Larry A. Featherly brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner") that he is not disabled under the Social Security Act, and therefore, is not entitled to a period of Social Security disability and disability insurance benefits.

Plaintiff originally applied for Social Security disability benefits on January 31, 2005, alleging that he had been disabled since October 31, 2004, due to post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), anxiety, depression, and paraphilia (sexual deviance). (Tr. 88). *fn1 Plaintiff's application was initially denied. Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ").

The hearing was held before ALJ Nancy Lee Gregg (the "ALJ") on February 15, 2008 (Tr. 14). ALJ Gregg determined that plaintiff was not disabled under the Act (Tr. 14-29), and that decision became the final decision of the Commission on April 28, 2010, when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 6-8). This appeal followed.

The Commissioner has moved (Dkt. #5) and the plaintiff has cross-moved (Dkt. #7) for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(c). As discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Familiarity with the pertinent facts, summarized below, is presumed.

Plaintiff was born January 24, 1965 and was 43 years old at the time of his hearing. (Tr. 18, 616). He has a high school education and past relevant work as a construction worker, licensed practical nurse, carpenter, rough carpenter, and form builder carpenter. (Tr. 18, 617-621).

Plaintiff's medical diagnoses, for which ample treatment records were provided to the ALJ, include cannabis and cocaine dependence (Tr. 260), depression and anxiety (Tr. 196, 325-327), and various sexual compulsions and paraphilias, including exhibitionism, a fondness for wearing diapers and strong desire to be treated as an infant by women, gender dysphoria, transvestic fetishism, and voyeurism (Tr. 234-245, 261, 360).

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Determining Disability

A person is considered disabled when he is unable "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). In order to determine whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ employs a five-step inquiry:

The first step determines whether the claimant is engaged in 'substantial gainful activity.' If he is, benefits are denied. If he is not engaged in such activity, the process moves to the second step, which decides whether the claimant's condition or impairment is 'severe'-- i.e., one that significantly limits his physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. If the impairment is not severe, benefits are denied. If the impairment is severe, the third step determines whether the claimant's impairments meet or equal those set forth in the 'Listing of Impairments'. . . contained in subpart P, appendix 1, of the regulations. . . . If the claimant's impairments are not listed, the process moves to the fourth step, which assesses the individual's 'residual functional capacity' (RFC); this assessment measures the claimant's capacity to engage in basic work activities. If the claimant's RFC permits him to perform his prior work, benefits are denied. If the ...


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