United States District Court, D. Oregon
ANGELA S. MICHAUD, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael J. McShane United States District Judge
Angela S. Michaud seeks judicial review of a final decision
of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (Commissioner) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Commissioner found
that Ms. Michaud was not disabled according to the Social
Security Act. This court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c) (3). Because the
Commissioner's decision is based on proper legal
standards and supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Michaud filed her SSI application on February 15, 2012,
claiming a disability onset date of October 22, 2004. Tr.
The claim was denied initially on July 23, 2012, and upon
reconsideration on November 26, 2012. Tr. 105-116. A hearing
was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on June 9,
2014 and on October 31, 2014, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's
claim. Tr. 17-32. The Appeals Council denied Ms.
Michaud's request for a review of the ALJ's decision
on June 1, 2016, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1. This appeal followed.
Commissioner's decision will be affirmed if her decision
meets all the legal requirements and her legal conclusions
are supported by substantial evidence within the record. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r for Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004).
“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 v. Astrue,
698 F.3d 1153, 1159 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sandgathe v.
Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997)). In
determining whether substantial evidence exists, this Court
reviews the administrative record as a whole, weighing both
the evidence that supports and that which weakens the
Commissioner's decision. Martinez v. Heckler,
807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986).
court may not substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner's if an analysis of the evidence on the
record as a whole can reasonably support either affirming or
reversing the commissioner's decision. Messmer v.
Colvin, 2016 WL 53397278 at *1 (D. Or. Sept.23, 2016).
However, a reviewing court can only affirm the
Commissioner's decision on grounds that the Commissioner
considered when making its decision. Stout v. Comm'r
Soc. Sec. Admin., 454 F.3d 1050, 1054 (9th Cir. 2006).
error that is harmless is not sufficient to reverse an
ALJ's decision. Stout, 454 F.3d at 1055-56.
“[T]he burden of showing that an error is harmful
normally falls upon the party attacking the agency's
determination.” Shinseki v. Sanders, 556 U.S.
396, 409 (2009).
is not required to discuss all the evidence presented, but
must explain why any evidence of significant probative value
has been rejected. Stark v. Shalala, 886 F.Supp.
733, 735 (D. Or. 1995).
to the Social Security Act, a person is disabled if she is
unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a
physical or mental impairment that is medically determinable.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The impairment must be such
that it is expected to result in death, or an impairment that
has lasted or could last for a continuous period of not less
than 12 months. Id. When determining whether an
individual is disabled, the Social Security Administration
applies a five step sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920. The burden of proof for the first four steps
lies with the claimant and if she meets her burden at each of
those steps, the burden of proof shifts to the Commissioner
at step five. Id.
at step one, the ALJ determined that Ms. Michaud did not
engage in any SGA since February 9, 2012, her disability
onset date. Tr. 537. At step two, the ALJ concluded that Ms.
Michaud's gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), mild
degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease of
the lumbar spine, chronic pain disorder, and fibromyalgia
were severe. Id. Furthermore, the ALJ decided that
Ms. Michaud's alleged mental impairments (migraines,
somatic symptom disorder and anxiety) and her physical
conditions of Barrett's esophagus, status post Nissan
fundoplication, reactive airway disease, chronic pelvic pain,
status post bilateral salpingooophrectomy for endometriosos
and lysis of adhesions, and intestinal metaplasia were not
three, the ALJ found that none of Ms. Michaud's
impairments individually or combined met or medically equaled
the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. Subsequently, the ALJ found that Ms. Michaud had
the residual function capacity (RFC) to perform a range of
light work activity. In calculating her RFC, the ALJ
considered that Ms. Michaud could lift twenty pounds
occasionally and ten pounds frequently, she was capable of
sitting or walking for six hours of an eight hour workday, as
well as always carrying out simple instructions and complex
instructions occasionally. Tr. 539. However, the ALJ found
that she should neither climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds,
nor be exposed to workplace hazards such as unprotected
heights or large moving equipment. Id.
four, after consultation with a vocational expert (VE) the
ALJ determined that Ms. Michaud is capable of performing her
past relevant jobs as a front desk reception clerk
(sedentary), bill collector (light) and health club sales
person (light), which were all semi-skilled in character. Tr.
542-543. In the alternative, the ALJ completed a step 5
evaluation and found that Ms. Michaud could perform other