United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION & ORDER
MICHAEL McSHANE United States District Judge.
Jeremiah Shattuck seeks judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying disability and
disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the
Social Security Act. For the reasons set forth below, the
decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED and this case is
filed a Title II application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on June 25, 2014. Tr. 20.
Plaintiff alleged disability beginning March 31, 2011.
Id. His application was denied. Id.
Plaintiff appeared before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) at a hearing held November 4, 2015.
Id. On December 11, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 35. The Appeals Council
denied review, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 4. This appeal followed.
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
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of March 31, 2011. Tr.
22. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following
severe impairment: dermatitis/eczema (unknown origin,
recurring). Tr. 23. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's
severe impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment.
determined that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform medium work
with the following restrictions: he is limited to frequent
pushing/pulling with the hands bilaterally; frequent handling
bilaterally; only occasional fingering/feeling bilaterally;
only occasional exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat,
humidity, or wetness. Tr. 24. In formulating Plaintiff's
RFC, the ALJ found Plaintiff less than fully credible. Tr.
26-32. Plaintiff has not challenged the ALJ's credibility
found that Plaintiff was able to perform his past relevant
work as a salesperson. Tr. 33. In the alternative, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff could perform work as a grocery bagger
and a general store laborer. Tr. 35. Accordingly, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was not disabled. Id.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
the decision is based on proper legal standards and the legal
findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r, 359
F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). Substantial evidence
“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)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). In reviewing
the Commissioner's alleged errors, this 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). Variable
interpretations of the evidence are insignificant if the
Commissioner's interpretation is rational. Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).
the evidence before the ALJ is subject to more than one
rational interpretation, we must defer to the ALJ's
conclusion. Batson, 359 F.3d at 1198 (citing
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir.
1995)). A reviewing court, however, cannot affirm the
Commissioner's decision on a ground that the agency did
not invoke in making its decision. Stout v.
Comm'r, 454 F.3d 1050, 1054 (9th Cir. 2006).
Finally, a court may not reverse an ALJ's decision on
account of an error that is harmless. Id. at
1055-56. “[T]he burden of showing ...