United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
LORIE A. HAIGHT, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
YIM YOU UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Lorie A. Haight (“Haight”) seeks judicial review
of the final decision by the Social Security Commissioner
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act (“Act”), 42 USC
§§ 401-33, and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act. 42 USC
§§ 1381-83f. This court has jurisdiction to review
the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 USC
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). All parties have
consented to allow a Magistrate Judge to enter final orders
and judgment in this case in accordance with FRCP 73 and 28
USC § 636(c). ECF #13. For the following reasons, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
November 20, 2012, Haight filed applications for DIB and SSI.
Tr. 179, 181. Her alleged onset date of disability is
April 1, 2009. Tr. 179, 181. Both claims were denied
initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 117, 121, 127, 130. A
hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Robert Spaulding on June 11, 2014. Tr.
26, 149. The ALJ issued a decision on September 26, 2014,
finding Haight was not disabled under the Act. Tr. 9, 20-21.
The Appeals Council denied Haight's request for review on
September 11, 2015. Tr. 1. Therefore, the ALJ's decision
is the Commissioner's final decision subject to review by
this court. 20 CFR §§ 404.981, 422.210. The time
period at issue is April 1, 2009, through December 31, 2014.
1971, Haight was 43 years old at the time of the disability
hearing. Tr. 28, 179. She received a GED in 1991. Tr. 209.
Her past relevant work experience is in janitorial services.
Tr. 209. Haight alleges she is unable to work due to: a back
injury, depression, deafness in her right ear, bi-polar
disorder, major back problems, and hepatitis C. Tr. 208. Her
treating physician diagnosed her with: degenerative disc
disease/scoliosis; arthritis in the hands, back, and neck;
mild-to-moderate bilateral hearing impairment at 250-8, 000
Hertz in her right ear; and morbid obesity. Tr. 343. Haight
also alleges that these impairments cause her pain and other
symptoms. Tr. 208.
is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 USC §
423(d)(1)(A). The ALJ engages in a five-step sequential
inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled within
the meaning of the Act. Lounsburry v. Barnhart, 468
F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098- 99 (9th Cir. 1999)); 20 CFR
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
one, the ALJ determines whether the claimant is performing
substantial gainful activity. If so, the claimant is not
disabled. 20 CFR §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i) & (b),
416.920(a)(4)(i) & (b).
two, the ALJ determines whether the claimant has “a
severe medically determinable physical or mental
impairment” or combination of impairments that meets
the 12-month durational requirement. Id.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii) & (c), 416.920(a)(4)(ii)
& (c). Absent a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the claimant is not disabled. Id.
three, the ALJ determines whether the impairment or
combination of impairments meets or equals an impairment
listed in 20 CFR Pt. 404 Subpt. P, App. 1 (Listing of
Impairments). 20 CFR §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii) &
(d), 416.920(a)(4)(iii) & (d). If the impairment or
combination of impairments is determined to meet or equal any
listed impairment, the claimant is disabled. Id.
adjudication proceeds beyond step three, the ALJ evaluates
medical and other relevant evidence in assessing the
claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). The claimant's RFC is an assessment
of work-related activities the claimant may still perform on
a regular and continuing basis, despite the limitations
imposed by her impairments. Id. §§
404.1520(e), 416.920(e); Social Security Ruling
(“SSR”) 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184 (July 2, 1996).
four, the ALJ uses the RFC to determine whether the claimant
can perform past relevant work. 20 CFR §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iv) & (e), 416.920(a)(4)(iv) & (e). If
the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, then at step
five the ALJ determines whether the claimant can perform
other work in the national economy. Id. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(v) & (g), 416.920(a)(4)(v) & (g).
claimant bears the initial burden of establishing disability.
Lockwood v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 616 F.3d
1068, 1071 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Tackett, 180
F.3d at 1100)). If the process reaches step five, however,
the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that jobs exist
in the national economy within the claimant's RFC.
Id. If the Commissioner meets this burden, then the
claimant is not disabled; otherwise, the claimant is
disabled. 20 CFR §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v) & (g),
416.920(a)(4)(v) & (g).
one, the ALJ determined that Haight has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date,
April 1, 2009. Tr. 14.
two, the ALJ determined that Haight had the following severe
impairments: “degenerative disc disease/scoliosis,
morbid obesity, and mild-to-moderate hearing impairment
bilaterally at 250-8000 Hz.” Id.
three, the ALJ determined that Haight did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
any listed impairment. Tr. 15. The ALJ found there was a lack
of medical evidence showing Haight's degenerative disc
disease/scoliosis met or medically equaled listing 1.04,
Disorders of the Spine, because there was “no evidence
of nerve root compression, limitation of motion of the spine,
and motor loss . . . accompanied by sensory or reflex
loss.” Id. He found Haight's bilateral,
mild-to-moderate hearing loss in her right ear did not meet
or medically equal listing 2.08 as the medical evidence did
not indicate a speech discrimination score of 40 percent or
less in her left ear. Id. The ALJ also acknowledged
that, while there is no medical listing for morbid obesity,
SSR 02-1p requires its effects to be considered when
evaluating Haight's limitations. Tr. 15; SSR 02-1p, 2002
WL 34686281 (Sept.12, 2002) (Titles II and XVI: Evaluation of
next determined Haight's RFC:
[Haight] has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b),
except that she requires a sit/stand option at will. She is
limited to no exposure to workplace noise in excess of that
allowable under OSHA regulations at 29 CFR without the use of
appropriate hearing protection. When occupational noise is
less than proscribed by 29 CFR, the individual's exposure
is limited to occasional.
four, the ALJ determined that Haight's RFC prevented her
from performing her past relevant work. Tr. 19.
five, based on Haight's age, education, RFC, and the
testimony of a vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ
determined that Haight was capable of performing work as a
basket filler, bench assembler, or assembler, electrical
accessories. Tr. 19-20. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that
Haight was not disabled under the Act and rejected
Haight's claims for DIB and SSI. Tr. 20.