United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
SHERYLE L. BEAUDRY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
PATRICIA SULLIVAN United States Magistrate Judge.
Sheryle Beaudry brings this action pursuant to the Social
Security Act (the “Act”), 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”). The Commissioner denied
plaintiff Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 401 et
seq. For the following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the
applied for DIB on August 27, 2012, claiming disability
beginning February 11, 2010. Tr. 157-58. Her claim was
denied initially on December 11, 2012, and upon
reconsideration on April 23, 2013. Tr. 64-73, 74-83. A
hearing was held October 2, 2014, before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) S. Andrew Grace. Tr. 14, 107-11,
122. Plaintiff testified at the hearing, represented by
counsel; a vocational expert (“VE”), Patricia
Ayerza, also testified. Id. After the hearing, the
ALJ ordered a consultative physical examination report and
medical source statement for plaintiff. Tr. 608-24. In light
of the report and the VE's testimony, plaintiff's
attorney requested either that plaintiff be found incapable
of the full range of sedentary work and of sustained work
activity, or that a supplemental hearing be held. Tr. 231-32.
Consequently, a supplemental hearing was held on May 7, 2015.
Tr. 35-63. Plaintiff testified, represented by counsel; VE
Lynn Jones also testified. Id. On June 12, 2015, the
ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled under
the Act and denying her benefits. Tr. 14-29. Plaintiff
requested review before the Appeals Council, Tr. 9-10, which
was denied September 20, 2016, Tr. 1-4. Plaintiff then sought
review before this Court.
1968, plaintiff has A.A. and B.S.N. degrees in nursing, and
has worked as a registered nurse. Tr. 157, 560, 612-13. At
the time of the hearing, plaintiff worked two part-time jobs:
magazine editor (for forty hours every three months) and
Christian counselor (initially training fifteen hours per
week, three hours per day, then later for fewer hours seeing
clients). Tr. 40-42, 612, 686. Plaintiff suffers from chronic
fatigue and pain. Tr. 200-05, 259, 306. She has had two
lumbar laminectomies, a fusion in her cervical spine, and
surgery for a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder. Tr.
242, 319, 346, 424, 550. The hardware from the cervical
fusion failed, and her C6-C7 vertebrae are no longer fused.
Tr. 242, 500, 611. Plaintiff suffers from Lyme disease and
protomyxzoa rheumatica. Tr. 299, 307, 472. Plaintiff states
that she lies down a few hours every day, and has mobility
and flexibility limitations. Tr. 48, 259. Plaintiff reports
joint pain, cognitive dysfunction, severe fatigue, and
insomnia from Lyme disease. Tr. 245-47, 252-57, 299, 509-13.
Plaintiff is divorced and lives with her two high-school-age
daughters, who have special needs and whom plaintiff
homeschools. Tr. 44, 300, 423.
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) (quotation omitted).
The court must weigh “both the evidence that supports
and detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusion.”
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); see also Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676,
680-81 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding that the court “must
uphold the ALJ's decision where the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation”).
“[A] reviewing court must consider the entire record as
a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a specific
quantum of supporting evidence.” Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007) (quotation
omitted). The 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 process for
determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. 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. §§ 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). A severe
impairment is one “which significantly limits [the
claimant's] physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities[.]” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) &
416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141. At step three, the
Commissioner determines whether the impairment meets or
equals “one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity.” Id.; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is
conclusively presumed disabled; if not, the analysis
proceeds. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141. At this point,
the ALJ must evaluate medical and other evidence to assess
and determine the claimant's “residual functional
capacity” (“RFC”). This is an assessment of
work-related activities that the claimant may still perform
on a regular and continuing basis, despite any limitations
imposed by her impairments. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(e), 404.1545(b)-(c), 416.920(e), 416.945(b)-(c). The
Commissioner proceeds to the fourth step to determine whether
the claimant can perform “past relevant work.”
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant can work, he is not
disabled; if he cannot perform past relevant work, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 146
n.5. At step five, the Commissioner must establish that the
claimant can perform other work that exists in significant
numbers in the national economy. Id. at 142; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) &
(f). If the Commissioner meets this burden, the claimant is
not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1566, 416.966.
one, the ALJ found that plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged disability
onset date. Tr. 16. Plaintiff's counseling and editing
work did not constitute substantial gainful activity. Tr.
16-17. At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of
the cervical spine, status post cervical fusion; degenerative
joint disease of the lumbar spine, status post two lumbar
laminectomies; a SLAP (superior labrum, anterior to
posterior) tear of the left shoulder, status post surgical
arthroplasty and repair; asthma; protomyxzoa rheumatica;
migraines; Lyme disease; and chronic pain syndrome. Tr. 17.
The ALJ found that mitral regurgitation was not a severe
impairment. Id. The ALJ found no severe medically
determinable impairments of the liver, nor medically
determinable impairments of anxiety, depression, or
posttraumatic stress disorder. Tr. 17-19. The ALJ found no
medical evidence of record of multiple sclerosis or chronic
fatigue syndrome. Tr. 18. At step three, the ALJ found that
plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination thereof
that met or medically equaled a listed impairment. Tr. 19.
The ALJ found that plaintiff had the RFC to perform light
work, with certain physical and cognitive limitations. Tr.
20. At step four, the ALJ found plaintiff unable to perform
past relevant work. Tr. 27. At step five, the ALJ found that
plaintiff could perform jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the economy, including office helper, mail clerk,
and storage facility rental clerk, and determined that she
was not disabled under the Act and not entitled to benefits.
argues that the ALJ in three regards: (1) in rejecting her
symptom testimony; (2) in rejecting the opinion of her
treating physician, Douglas Eubanks, D.O.; and (3) in not
assessing her neck mobility limitations. The Court finds that
the ALJ did not so err.