United States District Court, D. Oregon
WILBORN Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney District of Oregon JANICE
E. HEBERT Assistant United States Attorney ERINF. HIGHLAND
Special Assistant United States Attorney Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
MALCOLM F. MARSH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Daniel Mannion seeks judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security denying his application
for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits
("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 401-403. This Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons that
follow, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
protectively filed his DIB application on June 26, 2013,
alleging disability beginning September 30, 2006, due to
hidradenitis suppurativa ("HS"), pilonidal disease,
and hernia. Plaintiff subsequently amended his alleged onset
date to October 1, 2009. Tr. Soc. Sec. Admin. R.
("Tr.") 29-30, ECF No. 9. Plaintiffs claims were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a
request for a hearing before an administrative law judge
("ALJ"). The ALJ held a hearing on June 10, 2015,
at which Plaintiff appeared with his attorney and testified.
A vocational expert, Lynn A. Jones, also appeared at the
hearing and testified. On July 17, 2015, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs
request for review, and therefore, the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of
was born in 1964, and was 45 years old on the amended alleged
onset of disability date and 50 years old on the date of the
hearing. Plaintiff has completed four years of college, and
has worked in the past as an internet systems operator and a
small business owner. Tr. 48, 209.
ALJ'S DISABILITY ANALYSIS
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. Each step is potentially dispositive. The claimant
bears the burden of proof at steps one through four.
Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir.
2012); Valentine v. Commissioner Soc. Sec. Admin.,
574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). At step five, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant can do
other work which exists in the national economy. Hill v.
Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012).
meets insured status requirements for a DIB application
through December 31, 2018, At step one, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since his amended alleged onset date. At step two, the ALJ
found Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:
hidradenitis suppurativa and a history of hernia. At step three,
the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments do not meet or
medically equal a listed impairment.
assessed Plaintiff with a residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform a range of light work but with
the following limitations:
he is further limited to tasks involving no more than
frequent balancing, and no more than occasional kneeling,
crawling, crouching, stooping, or climbing.
Tr. 15. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is able to
perform his past relevant work as an internet systems
operator and small business owner. Accordingly, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a disability
under the Social Security Act at any time from October 1,
2009 through the date of the decision.
appeal to this Court, Plaintiff contends the following errors
were committed: (1) the ALJ erred at step three in failing to
find his HS meets or equals Listing 8.06; (2) the ALJ
improperly evaluated his testimony; and (3) the ALJ failed to
include all credible evidence in the hypothetical question to
the vocational expert. The Commissioner argues that even if
the ALJ erred, Plaintiff has not demonstrated harmful error.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
the Commissioner applied the proper legal standards and the
findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806
F.3d 487, 492 (9th Cir. 2015), '"Substantial
evidence is more than a mere scintilla but, less than a
preponderance. It means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'" Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871
F.3d 664, 674 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Desrosiers v.
Sec'y Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576
(9th Cir, 1988)). The court must weigh all the evidence,
whether it supports or detracts from the Commissioner's
decision. Martinez v. Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772
(9th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's decision must be
upheld, even if the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation. Batson v. Commissioner Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir, 2004). If the
evidence supports the Commissioner's conclusion, the
Commissioner must be affirmed; "the court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner."
Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir.
2001); Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1010 (9th
The ALJ Did Not Err at Step Three