United States District Court, D. Oregon
Katherine L. Eitenmiller and Mark A. Manning, Harder, Wells,
Baron & Manning, P.C., Attorneys for Plaintiff.
J. Williams, United States Attorney, and Janice E. Hebert,
Assistant United States Attorney, United states attorneys
office, District of Oregon, Erin F. Highland, Special
Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the General
Counsel, Social Security Administration, Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.
McInnes (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act. For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's
decision is affirmed.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
it is based on the proper legal standards and the findings
are supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501
(9th Cir. 1989). “Substantial evidence” means
“more than a mere scintilla but less than a
preponderance.” Bray v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995)). It means “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quoting Andrews, 53
F.3d at 1039).
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). Variable interpretations of the evidence are
insignificant if the Commissioner's interpretation is a
rational reading of the record, and this Court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. See
Batson v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190,
1193 (9th Cir. 2004). “[A] reviewing court must
consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm
simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting
evidence.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630
(9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006) (quotation
marks omitted)). A reviewing court, however, may not affirm
the Commissioner on a ground upon which the Commissioner did
not rely. Id.; see also Bray, 554 F.3d at
was born in November 1950 and was sixty-two years old at the
time of the administrative hearing. AR 36, 125. She speaks
English and earned a college degree in hotel and restaurant
management. AR 215. She has past work experience as a
customer service representative, a purchasing agent, and an
inventory clerk. AR 150.
filed for disability insurance benefits on February 11, 2013,
alleging disability as of September 9, 2011. AR 123-31.
Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, and she requested a hearing before an ALJ.
AR 68-71, 76-81. An administrative hearing was held before
ALJ John Michaelsen on November 19, 2014. AR 31-47. On
January 5, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
Plaintiff's application. AR 17-30. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's subsequent request for review on
December 11, 2015, making the ALJ's decision final. AR
1-13. This appeal followed.
The Sequential Analysis
claimant is disabled if he or she is unable to “engage
in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any
medically determinable physical or mental impairment 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). “Social Security Regulations set out a
five-step sequential process for determining whether an
applicant is disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act.” Keyser v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (DIB); Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). Each step is
potentially dispositive. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The
five-step sequential process asks the following series of
1. Is the claimant performing “substantial gainful
activity?” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). This
activity is work involving significant mental or physical
duties done or intended to be done for pay or profit. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1510. If the claimant is performing such
work, she is not disabled within the meaning of the Act. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). If the ...