United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael J. McShane United States District Judge
Maureen Krajewski brings this action for judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
her application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under
Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI). The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Because the
Commissioner's decision is based on proper legal
standards and supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
filed an application for disability insurance benefits on
January 20, 2012, alleging disability beginning May 1, 2009.
Tr. 16. The onset date was amended to September 28, 2011. Tr.
21. The claim was denied initially on June 22, 2012 and upon
reconsideration on December 10, 2012. Id. A hearing
was held on May 6, 2014 and on May 29, 2014 the ALJ issued a
decision denying plaintiff. Tr. 31. The Appeals Council
denied the request for review on January 9, 2016 making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Tr. 1-4. This appeal followed.
reviewing court shall affirm the Commissioner's decision
if the decision is based on proper legal standards and the
legal findings are supported by substantial evidence on the
record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r for
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 as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Hill v. Astrue,
698 F.3d 1153, 1159 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sandgathe v.
Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997)). To determine
whether substantial evidence exists, this Court reviews the
administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence
that supports and that which detracts from the ALJ's
conclusion. Martinez v. Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772
(9th Cir. 1986).
Commissioner's findings are upheld if supported by
inferences reasonably drawn from the record; if evidence
exists to support more than one rational interpretation, the
court must defer to the Commissioner's decision.
Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193; Aukland v.
Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1034-35 (9th Cir. 2000) (when
evidence can rationally be interpreted in more than one way,
the court must uphold the Commissioner's decision). A
reviewing court, however, “cannot affirm the
Commissioner's decision on a ground that the
Administration did not invoke in making its decision.”
Stout v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 454 F.3d 1050,
1054 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). A court may not
reverse an ALJ's decision on account of an error that is
harmless. Id. at 1055-56. “[T]he burden of
showing that an error is harmful normally falls upon the
party attacking the agency's determination.”
Shinseki v. Sanders, 556 U.S. 396, 409 (2009).
need not discuss all evidence presented, but must explain why
significant probative evidence has been rejected. Stark
v. Shalala, 886 F.Supp. 733, 735 (D. Or. 1995). See
also Howard ex rel. Wolff v. Barnhart, 341 F.3d 1006,
1012 (9th Cir. 2003) (in interpreting the evidence and
developing the record, the ALJ need not discuss every piece
Social Security Administration uses a five step sequential
evaluation to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520; 416.920. The initial burden of
proof rests upon the claimant to meet the first four steps.
If claimant satisfies his or her burden with respect to the
first four steps, the burden shifts to the Commissioner at
step five. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step five, the
Commissioner's burden is to demonstrate the claimant is
capable of making an adjustment to other work after
considering the claimant's residual functional capacity,
age, education, and work experience. Id.
the ALJ found at step one of the sequential analysis that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
(SGA) since September 28, 2011, the amended alleged onset
date. Tr. 18. At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff suffered
from the following severe impairments: alcohol dependence in
remission, anxiety, and arthralgias Tr. 19. At step three,
the ALJ found that none of Plaintiff's impairments, alone
or in combination, met or medically equaled one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity to perform a limited range of light work
except that she could stand and walk for two hours per day,
could perform postures occasionally, could occasionally
manipulate with her hands, and should avoid concentrated
exposure to hazards and extreme cold. Tr. 21. Given these
restrictions, and relying on the vocational expert's
testimony, the ALJ found that Krajewski could perform
unskilled light and sedentary jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy, such as mail
room work, small products assembly, addresser, and account
clerk. Tr. 26-27. The ALJ concluded that Krajewski was not
disabled from September 28, 2011 through the date of the
decision. Tr. 27.
contends that the ALJ's decision to deny Plaintiff's
claim for disability is not supported by substantial evidence
and contains errors of law. Pl.'s Br. 1-2. Plaintiff
argues she does not have the residual functional capacity to
perform the work the ALJ described and that (1) the ALJ did
not give clear and convincing reasons for discounting
plaintiff's report of her symptoms and (2) the ALJ
improperly weighted opinions of record. Pl.'s Br. 9-14.
Finally, plaintiff argues the ALJ did not property craft the
residual functional capacity and hypothetical to the
vocational expert resulting in a five step finding that was
supported by substantial evidence. Pl.'s Br. 15-17.
Clear and convincing reasons for discounting ...