United States District Court, D. Oregon
DAVID D. STURGILL, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
A. RUSSO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
David Douglas Sturgill seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act. For the reasons set forth below, the
decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
was born on May 2, 1966. Tr. 27. He has at least a high
school education and is able to communicate in English.
Id. Plaintiff filed a Title II and a Title XVI
application on September 18, 2012, alleging disability based
on neck fusion; knee, back, and elbow surgery; knee problems;
back problems; elbow problems; hip problems; arm, wrist and
ankle injuries; and crushed right leg, with an onset date of
July 31, 2011, later amended to March 2, 2012. Tr. 15, 17,
82. His application was denied initially and upon review. Tr.
15. At plaintiff's request, a hearing was held before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on October 10,
2014. Id. On December 19, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 28. On March 17,
2016, the Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1. This
claimant is disabled if he or 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). “Social Security Regulations set out a
five-step sequential process for determining whether an
applicant is disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act.” Keyser v. Comm'r, 648 F.3d
721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011).
The five-steps are: (1) Is the claimant presently working in
a substantially gainful activity? (2) Is the claimant's
impairment severe? (3) Does the impairment meet or equal one
of a list of specific impairments described in the
regulations? (4) Is the claimant able to perform any work
that he or she has done in the past? and (5) Are there
significant numbers of jobs in the national economy that the
claimant can perform?
Id. at 724-25; see also Bustamante v.
Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 954 (9th Cir. 2001).
claimant bears the burden of proof at steps one through four.
Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953. The Commissioner bears
the burden of proof at step five. Id. at 953-54. At
step five, the Commissioner must show that the claimant can
perform other work that exists in significant numbers in the
national economy, “taking into consideration the
claimant's residual functional capacity, age, education,
and work experience.” Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1100 (9th Cir. 1999); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1566; 416.966 (describing “work which
exists in the national economy”). If the Commissioner
fails to meet this burden, the claimant is disabled. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v); 416.920(a)(4)(v). If,
however, the Commissioner proves that the claimant is able to
perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy, the claimant is not disabled.
Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953-54.
performed the sequential analysis. At step one, the ALJ found
plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the amended alleged onset date, March 2, 2012. Tr. 17.
At step two, the ALJ determined plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease with
post-laminectomy syndrome; degenerative joint disease with a
history of recent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
reconstructive surgery of the left knee; and depression.
Id. At step three, the ALJ determined
plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal
one of the listed impairments. Tr. 19.
then assessed plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) and determined plaintiff could perform
sedentary work with the following additional limitations: no
more than frequent stooping, kneeling, crawling, and
crouching; occasional climbing of stairs and ramps; no
climbing ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; no more than frequent
overhead reaching; no more than occasional reaching with the
left upper extremity; and plaintiff is limited to simple,
repetitive, routine tasks. Tr. 21.
four, the ALJ determined plaintiff could not perform past
relevant work. Tr. 26. At step five, the ALJ found plaintiff
not disabled and had the RFC to perform work as a small parts
sorter, final inspector of small parts, and marker/price
sticker. Tr. 27-28.