United States District Court, D. Oregon
TONYA A. HERMAN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
Richard F. McGinty McGinty & Belcher, Attorneys Attorney
J. Williams United States Attorney
E. Hebert Assistant United States Attorney
M. Elsberry Social Security Administration, Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, United States District Judge
Tonya Herman brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act and for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social
Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)).
The Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.
was born in 1981 and was twenty-seven years old on the
alleged disability onset date. Tr. 25, 40. She completed the
eighth grade and has not earned a GED. Tr. 42. Plaintiff has
past relevant work experience as a cashier and window
assembler. Tr. 25. She applied for DIB and SSI benefits on
April 12, 2012. Tr. 206, 210. The Commissioner initially
denied her application and denied it again on
reconsideration. Tr. 141, 145-46. An administrative hearing
was held on April 29, 2014, before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Jo Hoenninger. Tr. 34. On May 22, 2014,
ALJ Hoenninger issued a written opinion denying
Plaintiff's application. Tr. 12-26. Plaintiff's
request for review of the decision was denied by the Appeals
Counsel on October 16, 2015, making the ALJ's opinion the
Commissioner's final decision that Plaintiff now
challenges in this Court. Tr. 1-3.
claimant is disabled if 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). Disability claims are evaluated according to a
five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant
bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
first step, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is
engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” If so,
the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b),
416.920(b). At step two, the Commissioner determines 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), 416.920(c). If
not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether claimant's
impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal
“one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity.” Yuckert, 482
U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d).
If so, the claimant is conclusively presumed disabled; if
not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform “past relevant
work.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
If the claimant can, the claimant is not disabled. If the
claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts
to the Commissioner. At step five, the Commissioner must
establish that the claimant can perform other work.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the
Commissioner meets its burden and proves that the claimant is
able to perform other work which exists in the national
economy, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements through the relevant time period and had not
engaged in substantial ...