United States District Court, D. Oregon
BONNIE S. COATS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
KATHERINE L. EITENMILLER Of Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney District of Oregon SARAH MOUM Special
Assistant United States Attorney Office of the General
Counsel Of Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael McShane United States District Judge.
Sue Coats (“Coats”) seeks judicial review of the
final decision by the Social Security Commissioner
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (“SSA”). This
Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's
decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Because the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, the decision is AFFIRMED.
1961, Coats was 46 years old on the disability onset date.
Tr. 190. She has a GED. Tr. 195. She previously worked at a
number of jobs, including letter carrier and retail clerk.
protectively filed for SSI on June 21, 2012, alleging
disability as of June 15, 2007, due to back problems, IBS,
bipolar disorder, anxiety, and right wrist and shoulder
problems. Tr. 29, 194. Her application was denied initially
and upon reconsideration. Tr. 29. A hearing was held on
November 17, 2014 before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Coats was represented by counsel and
testified, as did a vocational expert (“VE”). Tr.
48-90. On January 30, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Coats not disabled. Tr. 26-42. Coats timely requested review
of the ALJ's decision and, after the Appeals Council
denied her request for review, filed a complaint in this
Court. Tr. 8-10.
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 Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011);
claimant bears the burden of proof at steps one through four.
Bustamante v. Massanri, 262 F.3d 949, 953 (9th Cir.
2001). The Commissioner bears the burden of proof at step
five. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1100 (9th
Cir. 2001). 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.”
Id. If the Commissioner fails to meet this burden,
the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 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; Tackett,
180 F.3d at 1099.
one of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found that
Coats had not engaged in substantial gainful activity after
the alleged onset date, June 15, 2007. Tr. 31.
two, the ALJ determined Coats had the following severe
impairments: irritable bowel syndrome; multi-level lumbar
degenerative disc disease; right shoulder rotator cuff tear;
obesity; carpal tunnel syndrome/right wrist scapholunate
ligament disruption; bipolar I disorder; anxiety disorder,
not otherwise specified; alcohol dependence; and opiate
three, the ALJ found that Coats' impairments, by itself
or in combination, did not meet or equal the requirements of
a listed impairment. Tr. 32-35. Because Coats did not
establish disability at step three, the ALJ continued to
evaluate how Coats' impairments affected her ability to
work during the relevant period. The ALJ found Coats had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
less than the full range of light work, and that Coats could:
[o]ccasionally lift and/or carry twenty pounds and frequently
ten pounds. The claimant can sit, stand and/or walk six hours
out of an eight-hour workday with normal breaks. A bathroom
must be on premises. The claimant must be allowed to
alternate sitting or standing positions as needed throughout
the day while remaining on task. The claimant is limited to
no more than frequent climbing of ramps or stairs, balancing,
stooping, kneeling, ...