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Lee v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 2, 2014

SHARLENE J. LEE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Richard F. McGinty McGinty & Belcher, Salem, OR, Attorney for plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, Ronald K. Silver, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, David J. Burdett, Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANN AIKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying her application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Act. Upon review of the record and the parties' submissions, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

BACKGROUND

On August 13, 2009, plaintiff filed an application for DIB; it was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 55-58, 62-64, 140-43. On January 25, 2012, plaintiff and a vocational expert appeared and testified before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Tr. 21-39. On February 22, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 7-20. On April 29, 2013, the Appeals Council denied review, rendering the ALJ' s decision as the final agency decision. Tr. 1-4. Plaintiff now seeks judicial review.

Plaintiff was fifty-five years old at the time of the ALJ's decision, with a high school education and past relevant work as a claims clerk. Tr. 25, 34. Plaintiff alleges disability since July 2009 due to congestive heart failure. Tr. 157-58.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

This court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is supported by substantial evidence in the record and the correct application of the law. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin , 574 F.2d 685, 690 (9th Cir. 2009). "Substantial evidence' means more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs. , 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). In determining whether substantial evidence supports the decision, the court must weigh "both the evidence that supports and detracts from the [Commissioner]'s conclusions." Martinez v. Heckler , 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). Where the evidence "is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, " the Commissioner's conclusion must be upheld. Burch v. Barnhart , 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).

COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

The ALJ evaluated plaintiff's allegation of disability pursuant to the relevant sequential process. See Bowen v. Yuckert , 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. At step one, the ALJ found that plaintiff had not engaged in "substantial gainful activity" during the period of alleged disability. Tr. 12; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b)

At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had medically determinable impairments of coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tr. 12; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c). However, at step three, the ALJ found that these impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment that is deemed so severe as to preclude gainful activity. Tr. 13; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(d).

The ALJ next determined plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC) and found that plaintiff retained the RFC to perform sedentary work with some exertional and environmental restrictions. Tr. 13, 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(e).

At step four, based on plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ found that plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as a claims or data clerk. Tr. 16; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(f). The ALJ did not proceed to step five and found ...


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