United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Elaine Johaningmeier ("plaintiff) seeks judicial review
of a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying her application for Title
II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under the
Social Security Act ("Act"). Because the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, his decision is AFFIRMED and this case DISMISSED.
protectively filed her application for DIB on October 17,
2012, alleging disability as of January 1, 2010. (Tr. 22,
21145.) The Commissioner denied her application initially and
upon reconsideration, and she requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. 91-102,
103-13, 126-27.) An administrative hearing was held on
December 22, 2014. (Tr. 37-78). A supplemental hearing was
held on June 1, 2015. (Tr. 79-90.) After the hearings, the
ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June 10, 2015, finding
plaintiff not disabled. (Tr, 19-36.) The Appeals Council
denied plaintiff s subsequent request for review, making the
ALJ's decision final. (Tr. 1 -7.)
August 27, 1956, plaintiff was 53 years old on the alleged
onset date of disability and 58 years old at the time of the
initial hearing. (Tr. 42, 92, 103.) She speaks English,
completed a year of college, and vocational college for
phlebotomy. (Tr. 42-43, 227, 229.) Plaintiff alleges
disability due to migraines, insomnia, depression,
interstitial cystitis, high blood pressure, arthritis,
ischemic colitis, asthma, and hypothyroidism. (Tr. 49-51, 92,
court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is
based on proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record, Hammock
v. Bowen, 879 F, 2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989).
Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It
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 quotations omitted). The court must
weigh "both the evidence that supports and detracts from
the [Commissioner's] conclusions, " Martinez v.
Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986), "Where
the evidence as a whole can support either a grant or a
denial, [the court] may not substitute [its] judgment for the
ALJ's." Massachi v. Astrue, 486 F.3d 1149,
1152 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant 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. First, the Commissioner determines whether
a claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful
activity." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b). If so, the claimant is not disabled.
two, the Commissioner evaluates whether the claimant has a
"medically severe impairment or combination of
impairments." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140-41; 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520©. If the claimant does not have a
medically determinable, severe impairment, he is not
three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's
impairments, either singly or in combination, meet or equal
"one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity." Yuckert, 482
U.S. at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If so, the
claimant is presumptively disabled; if not, the Commissioner
proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner resolves whether the claimant can
still perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can work, he is not
disabled; if he cannot perform past relevant work, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner. At step five, the Commissioner
must establish that the claimant can perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national or local
economy. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(g). If the Commissioner meets this burden,
the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F, R. § 404.1566.
performed the sequential analysis. At step one of the
five-step process outlined above, the ALJ found that
plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since January 1, 2012, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 24.) At
step two, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: interstitial cystitis,  osteoarthritis of
the bilateral knees, mild left shoulder rotator cuff
tendonitis, and mild degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 24-25.)
At step three, the ALJ determined that plaintiff did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled a listed impairment. (Tr. 25.)
next assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC") and found that plaintiff has the RFC to
perform less than the full range of light work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(b). She can lift and carry 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and can stand and/or
walk 6 of 8 hours. She can occasionally climb and frequently
stoop, kneel and crouch. She should not be required to engage
in overhead reaching with the left upper extremity on more
than an occasional basis.
four, the ALJ found that plaintiff could perform her past
relevant work as a phlebotomist. (Tr. 30.) The ALJ therefore
concluded plaintiff was not disabled. (Id.) The ALJ
did not ...