United States District Court, D. Oregon
M. COFFIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
brings this proceeding to obtain judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying plaintiff's
applications for a period of disability, disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income benefits.
found that plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome,
osteoarthritis, and a history of recurring gastritis and
urinary tract infections. TR. 14.
Four of the Disability Analysis, the ALJ found that plaintiff
could perform her past relevant work as a sales person as it
was generally performed in the national economy. As a
predicate to the Step Four finding, the ALJ determined
plaintiff had the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform a reduced range of light work, including the
restriction that, due to occasional symptoms of urinary
incontinence, plaintiff required "close, ready access to
a restroom at all times." TR. 15.
contends that the ALJ erred in his Step Four analysis, and in
assessing the medical opinions and plaintiff's testimony.
The ALJ7 s Step Four Finding Is Not Contrary to
Law And Is Supported by Substantial Evidence
plaintiff has the burden of showing they can no longer
perform their past relevant work - if they are able to
perform their past relevant work, they are not disabled.
Barnharrt v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 25 (2003).
made a reasonable translation of the medical evidence
regarding plaintiff s symptoms from urinary incontinence and
put it into a concrete functional limitation. See,
Rounds v. Commissioner, 807 F.3d 996, 1006
(9th Cir. 2015) ("the ALJ is responsible for
translating and incorporating clinical findings into a
succint RFC") . The ALJ compared the RFC finding to
plaintiff s past work as a sales clerk and determined
plaintiff could perform that work "as generally
performed, according to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
[DOT]." Tr. 19.
addition to the AL J's application of the DOT, the
Vocational Expert also testified an individual with plaintiff
s RFC could perform sales work. Tr. 53. The ALJ did not need
to and did not rely on this testimony that supports the AL
J's finding. VE testimony at Step Four is "useful,
but not required." Matthews v. Shalala, 10 F.3d
678, 681 (9th Cir. 1993). The ALJ's own
comparison of the plaintiff's ability with the
description of the sales clerk job in the DOT is enough.
See, Pinto v. Commissionerf 249
F.3d 840, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) ("the best
source for how a job is generally performed is usually the
also provided subsequent, additional testimony in response to
questions from plaintiffs attorney. Plaintiff attempts to use
this additional, unnecessary testimony to argue that the
ALJ's Step Four finding was in conflict with the VE's
additional testimony regarding plaintiffs bladder symptoms.
However, defendant persuasively argues that plaintiffs
argument is based on functional limitations that were not
present in the appropriate RFC that the ALJ found. Plaintiff
contends that the ALJ's "failure to acknowledge ...
or provide an adequate explanation to reconcile this
testimony and the RFC precludes judicial review as to whether
the ALJ's Step Four denial is based upon substantial
evidence." P. 8 of Plaintiffs Memo. Plaintiff cites no
authority suggesting an ALJ must discuss vocational expert
testimony regarding restrictions not included in the RFC
finding and no such authority exists.
also states that "the description of the plaintiff's
past relevant work as generally performed in the DOT is
facially inconsistent with the RFC." P. 7 of
Plaintiff's Memo. However, plaintiff does not actually
explain how the RFC finding was facially inconsistent with
the DOT's description of the sales person work and the
Commissioner asserts no such conflict exists. Plaintiff did
not file an optional Reply brief. Plaintiff has not shown how
the ALJ erred in his comparison of plaintiff s ability with
the requirements of the sales person job.
ALJ's findings were not contrary to law and substantial
evidence supported the ALJ's finding that plaintiff could
perform her past relevant work.
The ALJ Did Not Err in the Evaluation of Opinion
argues that "[d]espite purporting to give dispositive
weight to the physical capacity evaluation opinion, the
ALJ's RFC does not incorporate the 15 pound lifting
restriction and does not explain why." P. 12 of
Plaintiff Memo. Plaintiff is incorrect. The ALJ did not give
dispositive weight to this assessment, but instead gave it
"partial weight, " " crediting it only to the
extent that it supported a limitation to light work."
Tr. 18. The functional limitation in the assessment,
including the limitation to 15 pounds lifting, is only
slightly less than the 20 pound lifting requirement for light
level work included in the RFC finding. Although partial
weight was afforded this assessment because it was close to
the ALJ's RFC finding, the specific restrictions
contained in the physical capacity assessment were rejected