United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
MELISSA K. CRIDER, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge.
Melissa K. Crider 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 applications for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). For the
reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is
November 28, 2012, plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI. She
alleged disability beginning April 4, 2012, due to a
coagulation disorder, other diseases of the circulatory
system, and affective disorders.
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
On May 7, 2015, plaintiff appeared at a hearing before an
ALJ. The ALJ found plaintiff not disabled in a written
decision issued August 8, 2016. After the Appeals Council
denied review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
it is based upon proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 622 F.3d 1228, 1231
(9th Cir. 2010). "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." Gutierrez v.
Comm'r Soc, Sec, 740 F.3d 519, 522 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citation and quotation marks omitted). The court must weigh
"both the evidence that supports and the evidence that
detracts from the ALJ's conclusion." Mayes v.
Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001). If the
evidence is subject to more than one interpretation but the
Commissioner's decision is rational, the Commissioner
must be affirmed, because "the court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner." Edhmd v.
Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
initial burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the 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); id. § 416.920(a)(4). At step
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in
"substantial gainful activity" since the alleged
disability onset date. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i)} (b); id §§
416.920(a)(4)(i), (b). At step two, the ALJ found plaintiff
had the following severe impairments:
prothrombin gene mutation with pulmonary embolism; right knee
degenerative arthritis with spondopalatia; right shoulder
tendonitis; thoracic spine disc protrusion at ¶ 7-8;
obesity; obstructive sleep apnea; status post hysterectomy;
status post traumatic head injury with headaches; major
depressive disorder; panic disorder; pain disorder secondary
to psychological factors and general medical condition (20
CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
Tr. 23; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(h), (c);
id. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(H), (c). At step
three, the ALJ determined plaintiffs impairments, whether
considered singly or in combination, did not meet or equal
"one of the listed impairments" that the
Commissioner acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R, §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii)s (d); id.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii), (d).
then assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); id
§ 416.920(e). The ALJ found that plaintiff has:
the [RFC] to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except the individual can lift or
carry 10 pounds occasionally and 5 pounds frequently; no
limitation on sitting; stand or walk two hours total, in any
combination, per eight-hour workday with normal breaks, but
no more than 15 minutes standing at a time every hour; no
climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasional climbing
ramps or stairs, stooping, crouching, kneeling, crawling, and
balancing; occasional overhead reaching with the right upper
extremity; avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat or
cold; and no exposure to unprotected heights or hazardous
machinery. The individual would have the following mental
nonexerfional limitations: can perform simple and more
complex tasks; would do best working independently but can
have superficial contact with coworkers in a non-teamwork
setting; would do best with supportive supervision, which
would allow flexibility to take normal break times outside
the normally structured break times (e.g., take the breaks 15
minutes earlier than the normal times or 15 minutes later
than the normal times); and no stressful public environments
where the individual would have to deal with member of the
public who are confrontational or challenging.
Tr. 23. At step four, the ALJ concluded plaintiff is capable
performing past relevant work as a receptionist, accounting
clerk, data entry clerk, and manicurist. The ALJ concluded
that such work would "not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by [plaintiffs]
[RFC]." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), (f).
At step five the ALJ found that plaintiff could perform work
existing in the national economy; specifically, plaintiff
could work as a call out operator or a sewing machine
operator. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), (g)(1).
Accordingly, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled and denied
her applications for benefits.
contends that the ALJ committed four harmful errors with
respect to properly crediting key evidence in making his
decision, First, plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by not
providing clear and convincing reasons for finding plaintiff
less than fully credible. Second, plaintiff asserts that the
ALJ failed to correctly assess lay testimony causing legal
error. Third, plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to
provide clear and convincing reasons to reject or omit
medical opinions. Finally, plaintiff avers the ALJ failed to
incorporate all medical findings into plaintiffs RFC causing
Plaintiff's Subjective Symptom Statements
by addressing plaintiffs argument that the ALJ failed to
provide clear and convincing reasons for finding ...