United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA United States Magistrate Judge.
Scott Prue ("plaintiff) seeks judicial review of a final
decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying his application for Title
II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under the
Social Security Act ("Act"). Because the
Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, her decision should be REVERSED and REMANDED for
filed his application for DIB on February 20, 2014, alleging
disability as of May 3 0, 2010. (Tr. 169-70.) The
Commissioner denied his application initially and upon
reconsideration, and he requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. 114-18,
120-22, 126-27.) An administrative hearing was held on July
2, 2015. (Tr. 40-74.) After the hearing, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on October 5, 2015, Finding plaintiff
not disabled. (Tr. 15-39.) The Appeals Council denied
plaintiffs subsequent request for review, making the
ALJ's decision final. (Tr. 1-6.)
June 18, 1981, plaintiff was 28 years old on the alleged
onset date of disability and 34 years old at the time of the
hearing, (Tr. 76, 89, 111, 169.) He speaks English, graduated
high school, and has U.S. Marine Corps training in combat
engineering and recruiting. (Tr. 86, 109, 111, 199.)
Plaintiff alleges disability due to failed back syndrome,
post traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), major
depression, and suicidal ideation. (Tr. 198.)
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. 3 89, 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, [the 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 of 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 aperson is disabled. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. First, the Commissioner determines whether
a claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful
activity." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b). If so, the claimant is not disabled.
two, the Commissioner evaluates 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 the claimant does not have a
medically determinable, severe impairment, he is not
three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's
impairments, either 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 140-41; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If so, the
claimant is presumptively disabled; if not, the Commissioner
proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner resolves whether the claimant can
still perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can work, he is not
disabled; if he 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
existing in significant numbers in the national or local
economy. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(g). If the Commissioner meets this burden,
the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1566.
performed the sequential analysis. At step one of the
five-step process outlined above, the ALJ found that
plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since May 30, 2010, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 20.) At step
two, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, obesity,
failed back syndrome, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. (Tr.
20-21.) At step three, the ALJ determined that plaintiff did
not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met
or medically equaled a listed impairment. (Tr. 21-22.)
next assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC") and found that plaintiff has the RFC to
perform modified sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a). The claimant can lift/carry 10 pounds
occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently. He can sit
for 6 of 8 hours and stand/walk for 2 of 8 hours. He can
push/pull as much as he could lift and carry. The claimant
can never climb ladders or scaffolds. He can no more than
occasionally crouch, crawl, balance, stoop, kneel and climb
ramps and stairs, He is further limited to simple, routine
and repetitive tasks and simple work related decision [sic].
He can no more than occasionally interact with the public and
four, the ALJ found that plaintiff had no past relevant work.
(Tr. 32.) At step five, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff
could "perform the requirements of representative
occupations such as" electronics jobs, semi-conductor
jobs, and circuit board jobs, (Tr, ...