United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
JEFFREY R. BERRY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge.
Jeffrey R. Berry brings this action pursuant to the Social
Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to
obtain judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"),
The Commissioner denied plaintiffs application for Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the
Act. For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's
decision is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
for further proceedings.
November 4, 2012, plaintiff Jeffrey R, Berry filed an
application for DIB that alleged disability since July 10,
2009. Tr. 17, 162-63, 280. Plaintiff based his request for
benefits on a number of conditions, including osteoarthritis
in the spine and knees, chronic pain, degenerative disc
disease, and spinal herniations. Tr, 281. The application was
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. Tr. 96-100,
102-105. Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") found plaintiff not disabled on December
19, 2014. Tr. 14-29. The Appeals Council denied review, and
plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint in this Court. Tr.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision so
long as 1) it is based on proper legal standards and 2) its
findings are supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 622 F.3d 1228, 1231
(9th Cir. 2010). The district court reviews the record as a
whole, and must weigh both evidence that supports and
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's
conclusion. Jones v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th
Cir. 1985). If evidence presents the possibility for multiple
inteipretations and the Commissioner's decision is
rational, the decision must be affirmed because "the
court may not substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner." Edlundv. Massanari, 253 F, 3d
1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
initial burden of proof rests upon plaintiff to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, plaintiff 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, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4). At step one, the ALJ found that plaintiff did
not engage in substantial activity between his alleged onset
date of July 10, 2009 and his date last insured of December
31, 2011. Tr. 19; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i),
(b). At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: bilateral knee arthritis,
lumbar radiculopathy, spinal stenosis, status post left total
knee arthroplasty, and bursitis of the right hip. Tr. 19; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), (c). At step three,
the ALJ found that plaintiffs impairments, whether considered
singly or combination, did not meet or equal one of the
listed impairments that the Commissioner acknowledges are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. Tr. 20;
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), (d).
found plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
§ 404.1567(b), except that plaintiff could only stand
and walk for two hours in an eight-hour workday. Tr. 21; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e). The ALJ included several
other limitations in plaintiffs RFC, including limiting
plaintiff to sitting for six hours in a workday and to
pushing and pulling as much as he could lift and carry. Tr.
21. At step four, the ALJ found that through the date last
insured, plaintiff was unable to perform any of his past
relevant work. Tr. 27; 20 C.F.R. §§
five, the ALJ found plaintiff could perform several jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. Tr.
27-28; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), (g). The ALJ
based this decision on plaintiffs age, education, work
experience, and RFC, and determined that plaintiff could have
performed the requirements of occupations like the following:
cashier, small products assembler, and electronics worker.
Tr. 27-28. Accordingly, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled
and denied his application for benefits.
alleges that the ALJ erred by (1) rejecting plaintiffs
testimony about the severity of his symptoms; (2) rejecting a
medical opinion on the severity of plaintiffs symptoms; (3)
classifying plaintiff as capable of performing light work as
defined by agency guidelines; and (4) relying on the
testimony of a vocational expert. I address each argument in
Plaintiff's Symptom Testimony
argues the ALJ failed to provide adequate reasons under the
"clear and convincing" standard to partially
discredit plaintiffs testimony. Garrison v. Colvin,
759 F, 3d 995, 1015 (9th Cir. 2014), Defendant argues the
ALJ's disregard for the ...