United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
E. Jones, Senior Judge
Michelle Johnson appeals the Commissioner's decision
denying her concurrent applications for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and
XVI of the Social Security Act. The court has jurisdiction
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). I AFFIRM the
alleged disability beginning July 1, 2009, due to blindness
in one eye, epilepsy, Graves' disease, blood clot
disorder, anemia, hypertension, and lupus. Admin, R. 103. She
satisfied the insured status requirements under the Act
through September 30, 2014, and must establish that she was
disabled on or before that date to prevail on her Title II
claim. Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th Cir.
J applied the sequential disability determination process
described in the regulations and in Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S, 137, 140 (1987). The ALJ found that
Johnson's ability to work was adversely affected by
encephalomalacia with a history of a cerebrovascular
accident, seizure disorder, and a cognitive disorder with
borderline intellectual functioning. Admin. R. 22-23. The ALJ
found that, despite these impairments, Johnson retained the
residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a
range of light work involving simple, repetitive, routine
tasks, in a structured work environment with predictable work
goals, limited postural activities such as stooping,
crawling, kneeling, and so forth, and limited exposure to
hazards. Admin. R. 24-29.
vocational expert testified that a person with Johnson's
vocational factors and RFC could perform light, unskilled
occupations such as garment sorter, linen folder, and tray
setter which represent hundreds of thousands of jobs in the
national economy. Admin. R. 30-31, 63-64. The ALJ concluded
that Johnson was not disabled within the meaning of the
Social Security Act. Admin. R. 31.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's 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. Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038
(9th Cir. 2008). Substantial evidence is relevant evidence
that a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support
a conclusion, Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401 (1971). Substantial evidence may be less than a
preponderance of the evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Under this
standard, the court must consider the record as a whole, and
uphold the Commissioner's factual findings that are
supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence
even if another interpretation is also rational.
Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882; Batson v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190,
1193 (9th Cir. 2004); Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d
1035, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1995).
claimant bears the burden of showing that the ALJ erred and
that any error was harmful. McLeod v. Astrue, 640
F.3d 881, 886-87 (9th Cir. 2011). Johnson contends the ALJ
erred by discrediting her subjective statements, discounting
the opinion of Richard LaFrance, M.D., and rejecting the lay
witness statements of her stepfather, Stefan Jones. She
contends these errors led the ALJ to elicit testimony from
the vocational expert with hypothetical assumptions that did
not accurately reflect all of her functional limitations and
to erroneously conclude that she is not disabled.
application papers, Johnson said her ability to work was
limited by seizures, inability to remember or comprehend,
extreme fatigue, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, lupus, anemia,
and being in and out of the hospital. Admin. R. 216, 221 -22.
In her hearing testimony, Johnson said that she had a stroke
in 2007 and began taking anticoagulation medications. She
began to have seizures in July 2009 which corresponds to the
alleged onset of her disability. Admin. R. 25, 50-51. She
said she was unable to work because she had difficulty
speaking and thinking and could never tell when she would
have a seizure. Johnson said her anticonvulsant medications
limited her grand mal seizures but she continued to have them
two or three times a month. She continued to experience
smaller seizure episodes a few times a week. Admin. R. 25,
said that Johnson's medically determinable impairments
could reasonably be expected to cause some of the symptoms
she alleged and he did not identify affirmative evidence of
malingering. Admin. R. 25, Under such circumstances, an ALJ
must assess the credibility of the claimant regarding the
severity of symptoms, An adverse credibility determination
must include specific findings supported by substantial
evidence and clear and convincing reasons. Carmickle v.
Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin.,533 F.3d 1155, 1160
(9thCir. 2008); Smolen v. Chafer,80 F.3d 1273,
1281-82 (9th Cir. 1996). The findings must be ...