United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
YIM YOU UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Michele Rohr (“Rohr”), seeks to reverse and
remand the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying her
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act. This court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) and 1383(c). In accordance with FRCP 73 and 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c), all parties consented to allow a Magistrate
Judge to enter final orders and judgment in this case (ECF
#8). Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence and free from legal error, it is
filed her application for DIB in April 2012, alleging a
disability beginning December 21, 2006, due to physical and
mental impairments, including stroke, loss of vision, leg
weakness, tremors, PTSD, and fatigue. Tr. 151-54,
After the Commissioner denied her application initially (Tr.
64-74) and upon reconsideration (Tr. 76-89), Rohr requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). The hearing was held on January 29,
2014. Tr. 36. At the hearing, Rohr amended her alleged onset
date to June 7, 2010, a date roughly corresponding with her
treatment with Oregon Neurosurgery Specialists following an
apparent stroke on May 31, 2010. Tr. 40.
March 6, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding Rohr not
disabled. Tr. 29. The Appeals Council denied Rohr's
subsequent request for review on July 7, 2015, and the
ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final
decision subject to review by this court. Tr. 1-3; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.981, 422.210.
July 1972, Rohr was 37 on her amended alleged onset date. Tr.
174. She speaks English and completed two years of college in
2001. Tr. 177, 179. She has past work experience as a
certified medical assistant and as a certified nursing
assistant. Tr. 179.
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 U.S.C. §
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. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d
1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.
one, the ALJ found that Rohr had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity after her amended alleged onset date of June
7, 2010. Tr. 18. At step two, the ALJ found that Rohr has the
following severe impairments: cervical degenerative disc
disease, status-post stroke, migraine headaches, major
depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic
disorder with agoraphobia, and right foot drop. Id.
At step three, the ALJ found Rohr did not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a
listed impairment. Tr. 19.
next assessed Rohr's RFC, and determined that she could
perform a range of light work with the following limitations:
she can walk or stand only four hours in an eight-hour day;
she can occasionally balance and climb ladders and stairs;
she cannot tolerate even moderate exposure to noise, or any
hazards such as machinery and heights; she can perform simple
routine tasks, but would be off-task five percent of the
time; and she can tolerate occasional changes and perform
goal-oriented work. Tr. 21.
four, the ALJ found Rohr could not perform any of her past
relevant work. Tr. 28. At step five, the ALJ determined Rohr
could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy, including office helper and photocopy
machine operator. Tr. 29. The ALJ therefore concluded Rohr is
not disabled. Id.
reviewing 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. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Lewis v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 909, 911
(9th Cir. 2007). This court must weigh the evidence that
supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion.
Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th
Cir. 2007) (citing Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715,
720 (9th Cir. 1998)). The reviewing court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Ryan v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 528 F.3d 1194, 1205 (9th
Cir. 2008) (citing Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742,
746 (9th Cir. 2007)); Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d
1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001). Where the evidence is susceptible
to more than one rational interpretation, the
Commissioner's decision must be upheld if it is