United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
STUART GRAF, Attorney for plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney District of Oregon JANICE
E. HEBERT Assistant United States Attorney
KATHRYN A. MILLER Special Assistant United States Attorney
Office of the General Counsel Social Security Administration
Of Attorneys for defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Hansen ("plaintiff) seeks judicial review of a final
decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title
II of the Social Security Act ("Act"). This court
has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C, § 405(g). Based on a careful
review of the record, the Commissioner's decision is
applied for DIB on August 10, 2010, alleging disability as of
October 1, 2008, due to tail-bone injury, fatigue,
depression, fibrous tumors, gall stones, and mood swings.
(Tr. 125-26, ) Her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 113, 125, ) A hearing convened on June
5, 2014, before an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"). (Tr. 42-111.) On June 17, 2014, the ALJ
issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled. (Tr.
12-22.) Plaintiff timely requested review of the ALJ's
decision and, after the Appeals Council denied review,
plaintiff filed a complaint in this court. (Tr. 1-3.)
March 25, 1959, plaintiff was 49 years old on the alleged
onset date of disability and and 54 years old on the date of
the hearing. (Tr. 42, 126.) Plaintiff attended high school
through the eleventh grade and did not obtain a GED. (Tr.
49.) She did, however, attend a vocational school and earned
a veterinary tech certificate. Id.
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. Hammock
v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial
evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation and internal
quotations omitted). The court must weigh "both the
evidence that supports and detracts from the
[Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v.
Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). "Where
the evidence as a whole can support either a grant or a
denial, [a court] may not substitute [its] judgment for the
ALJ's." Massachi v. Astrue, 486 F.3d 1149,
1152 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).
initial burden o f proof rests upon the claimant to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant must
demonstrate an "inability to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected... to
last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process
for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 42 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. First, the Commissioner determines whether a
claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful
activity;" if so, the claimant is not disabled.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R. §
two, the Commissioner resolves whether the claimant has a
"medically severe impairment or combination of
impairments." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140-41; 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). If not, the claimant is not
disabled. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
three, the Commissioner evaluates whether the claimant's
impairment meets or equals "one of a number of listed
impairments that the Secretary acknowledges are so severe as
to preclude substantial gainful activity." Id.;
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If so, the claimant is presumed
disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141, At step four, the
Commissioner determines whether the claimant still can
perform "past relevant work." Yuckert, 482
U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f). If the claimant
can work, she is not disabled; if she cannot perform past
relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can
perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national or local economy. Id. at 142; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(g). If the Commissioner meets this burden,
the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1566.
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date. (Tr. 14.) At
step two, the ALJ found plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease.
three, the ALJ found that the plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled one of a number of impairments that are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity, (Tr. 17.)
the ALJ continued the sequential evaluation process to
determine how plaintiffs medical limitations affected her
ability to work. The ALJ resolved that plaintiff had the