United States District Court, D. Oregon
For Plaintiff: Richard F. McGinty, Salem, Oregon.
For Defendant: S. Amanda Marshall, Adrian L. Brown, Ronald K. Silver, United States Attorney's Office, Portland, Oregon; Kathy Reif, Social Security Administration, Seattle, Washington.
OPINION AND ORDER
Ann Aiken, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Brian McCown brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (" Act") to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (" Commissioner"). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's applications for Title II disability insurance benefits (" DIB") and Title XVI supplemental security income (" SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed and this case is dismissed.
On April 13 30, 2010, plaintiff applied for SSI and DIB. Tr. 165-73. His applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 122-31, 135-41. On July 24, 2012, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ"), wherein plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified, as did a vocational expert (" VE"). Tr. 29-79. On September 18, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 10-24. After the Appeals Council denied his request for review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-3.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Born on October 1, 1966, plaintiff was 29 years old on the initial alleged onset date of disability and 45 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 165, 17 0, 609. Plaintiff completed highschool and attended college classes for approximately ten years, although he did not obtain a degree. Tr. 36, 192, 609. He worked previously as a musician and cook. Tr. 63, 193. Plaintiff alleges disability due to anxiety, depression, seizures, and back, shoulder, and knee pain. Tr. 40, 49, 191.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence is " more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (citation and internal quotations omitted) . The court must weigh " both the evidence that supports and detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v. Heckler, 807 interpretations F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). Variable interpretations of the evidence are insignificant if the Commissioner's interpretation is rational. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).
The initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486 (9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant must demonstrate an " inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected . . . to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d) (1) (A).
The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140, 107 S.Ct. 2287, 96 L.Ed.2d 119 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1502, 416.920. First, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is engaged in " substantial gainful activity."
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If so, the claimant is not disabled.
At step two, the Commissioner evaluates whether the claimant has a " medically severe impairment or combination of impairments."
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If the claimant does not have a severe impairment, he is not disabled.
At step three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's impairments, either singly or in combination, meet or equal " one of a number of listed impairments that the [Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity."
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is ...