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Drake v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

July 21, 2014

COMMISSIONER of Social Security, Defendant.


ROBERT E. JONES, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Rachel EULA Drake appeals the Commissioners decision denying her application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). I AFFIRM the Commissioners decision.


On January 13, 2010, Rachel Eula Drake filed an application for Social Security Disability Benefits alleging she was disabled due to trochanteric bursitis, migraines, back strain, left shoulder pain, and left wrist pain. Admin R. 116.

On October 6, 2011, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) applied the five-step sequential test to determine whether Drake was disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Admin. R. 22-31. At step one, the ALJ found that Drake had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 13, 2008. Admin. R. 24. At step two, the ALJ found Drake's trochanteric bursitis was her only severe impairment. Admin. R. 24-26. At step three, the ALJ found Drake does not have an impairment medically equal to those listed in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. Admin. R. 26-27.

After step three, the ALJ determined Drake's "residual functional capacity" to perform physical and mental work despite limitations from her impairments. Admin. R. 27. The ALJ found Drake had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work including standing or walking two hours in an eight hour day and lifting ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally. Admin. R. 27. The ALJ also found Drake required a sit/stand option because all her postural positions were limited to occasional. Admin. R. 27. Additionally, the ALJ found Drake was limited to occasional overhead reaching with her left shoulder; occasional fingering and feeling with the non-dominant left upper extremity; and avoidance of moderate exposure to cold, vibrations, and hazards. Admin. R. 27. The ALJ determined Drake could not be expected to drive at night or climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. Admin. R. 27.

At step four, the ALJ determined Drake has no past relevant work that she can perform. Admin. R. 30. At step five, the ALJ found Drake has the residual functional capacity to perform the jobs of wafer breaker (D.0.T. 726.687-046) and taper (D.O.T. 017.684-010). Admin. R. 30. Thus, the ALJ found that Drake was not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act. Admin. R. 31.

Drake now requests that this Court reverse the decision of the ALJ and find her disabled.


The district court must affirm the Commissioners decision if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880 (9th Cir. 2006). The Commissioner's factual findings must be upheld if supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the record, even if evidence exists to support another rational interpretation. Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193; Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1995).


I. Credibility Determinations

A. Plaintiffs Testimony

Although the ALJ told Drake at the administrative hearing he thought she was being truthful, he ultimately found Drake not credible as to the severity of her pain-related symptoms to the extent that her testimony was inconsistent with her residual functional capacity. The ALJ believed Drake's testimony that her depression did not prevent her from working. He also believed that she could read or study for three to five hours a day, watch television or play computer games for four to six hours a day, do light household cleaning, prepare meals, drive for twenty minutes, attend church, and help her legally blind grandmother go grocery shopping and attend doctor's appointments. Admin R. 26, 49, 52, 54, 312, 687. Further, he believed that Drake had to adjust between sitting and standing positions. Admin R. 27, 48. ...

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