United States District Court, D. Oregon
KLAYTON V. ALBRIGHT, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant
RICHARD F. MCGINTY Attorney for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney District of Oregon JANICE
E. HEBERT Assistant United States Attorney.
A. BODEN Social Security Administration Office of the General
Counsel Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Malcolm F. Marsh United States District Judge.
Klayton V. Albright seeks judicial review of a decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") disability
benefits pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. This Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). For
the reasons that follow, I reverse and remand the
Commissioner's decision for an immediate payment of
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
January 17, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed an application
for benefits, alleging disability beginning September 4,
1991, due to an inability to concentrate and maintain focus,
mood lability, and maintain appropriate social standards. Tr.
271. Plaintiff s claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing
before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). An ALJ
held a hearing on June 17, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared
with his attorney and testified. Medical expert William
Weiss, Ph.D., testified by telephone, and vocational expert,
Richard Hincks, attended the June 17, 2014 hearing and
testified. At that hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged
onset date to September 4, 2009. The ALJ held a second
hearing on October 28, 2014, at which Plaintiff again
testified. On November 14, 2014, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs
request for review, and therefore, the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of
1991, Plaintiff was 18 years old the amended alleged onset
date, and 20 years old on the date of the ALJ's decision.
Plaintiff has a history of some special education classes and
had an individualized education plan for reading and writing,
as well as behavioral and emotional needs, but graduated with
a regular high school diploma. Tr. 299, 308. Plaintiff
attended some community college classes, but reported not
performing well. Tr. 240. Plaintiff has no past relevant
work, has worked very briefly as a dishwasher and cleaner
part-time, «nd worked sorting cherries. Tr. 39-41.
ALJ'S DISABILITY ANALYSIS
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process
for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowenv.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140(1987);20C.F.R.
§§404.1520, 416.920. Each step is potentially
dispositive. The claimant bears the burden of proof at steps
one through four. See Valentine v. Commissioner Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009); Tackett
v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999). At step
five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the
claimant can do other work which exists in the national
economy. Hill v. Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1161 (9th
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since January 17, 2012, the
application date. At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD") and learning
disorder. At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff s
impairments, or combination of impairments, did not meet or
medically equal a listed impairment.
assessed Plaintiff with a residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels but with additional nonexertional
limitations: Plaintiff can perform "simple, routine
tasks with an SVP of 1 or 2; reading is limited to the 4th
grade level; and he can have occasional contact with the
public." Tr. 22.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has no past relevant work.
Tr. 29. At step five, the ALJ found that considering
Plaintiffs age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform,
including such representative occupations as: lot attendant,
laundry sorter, street cleaner and fruit washer. Accordingly,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a
disability under the Social Security Act from January 17,
2012, the date his SSI application was filed.
appeal to this court, Plaintiff contends the following errors
were committed: (1) the ALJ improperly evaluated the opinions
of treating physician Randall E. Blome, M.D., examining
psychologist Paul S. Stoltzfus, Psy.D., and testifying
medical expert William Weiss, Ph.D.; (2) the post-hearing
evidence from Dr. Freed undermines the ALJ's
determination; and (3) the RFC fails to incorporate all his
limitations. The Commissioner argues that the ALJ's
decision is supported by substantial evidence and is free of
legal error. Alternatively, the Commissioner contends that
even if the ALJ erred, Plaintiff has not demonstrated harmful
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
the Commissioner applied proper legal standards and the
findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 622 F.3d
1228, 1231 (9th Cir. 2010). "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, 698
F.3d at 1159 (internal quotations omitted);
Valentine, 574 F.3d at 690. The court must weigh all
the evidence, whether it supports or detracts from the
Commissioner's decision. Garrison v. Colvin, 759
F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014); Martinez v. Heckler,807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's
decision must be upheld, even if the evidence is susceptible
to more than one rational interpretation. Batson v.
Commissioner Soc. Sec. Admin.,359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th
Cir. 2004). If the evidence supports the ...