United States District Court, D. Oregon
YVONNE C. NELSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. RUSSO, United States Magistrate Judge
Yvonne C. Nelson seeks judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("Commissioner") denying disability insurance
benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social
Security Act ("the Act"). All parties have
consented to allow a Magistrate Judge to enter final orders
and judgment in this case in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 73
and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). See (doc. 12). For the
reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is
AFFIRMED and this case is DISMISSED.
December 1947, plaintiff applied for DIB in October 2010,
alleging disability beginning January 1, 2002, with a date
last insured of December 31, 2007. Tr. 53. She completed
high school, some college, and has past relevant work as a
service order dispatcher. Tr. 38, 104, 805. Plaintiff alleged
disability based upon: "[chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease], congestive heart failure, diabetes, arthritis,
chronic sinusitis, [high blood pressure], thyroid, gout,
edema, chronic back pain, bleeding ulcer, and
depression." Tr. 53, 171. Her application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 52-75. On October 31,
2012, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued a
decision finding plaintiff not disabled, which the Appeals
Council declined to review, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-6, 877-86.
Plaintiff sought judicial review in this Court. Tr. 843-65;
see also Nelson v. Colvin, No. 3:14-cv-00914-HZ,
2015 WL 3606386 (D. Or. June 4, 2015) ("Nelson
I"). Upon review, Judge Hernandez reversed and
remanded the case finding the ALJ's evaluation of
plaintiffs subjective symptom testimony was not supported by
substantial evidence, although he otherwise affirmed the
ALJ's decision. Tr. 852-64; Nelson I, at *3-10.
On March 1, 2016, the ALJ held a second administrative
hearing, and on March 21, 2016, he again issued a decision
finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 795-806, 813-42.
Plaintiff sought review in this Court.
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 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 the
claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful
activity." Yuckeit, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b). If so, she 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(c). If the claimant does not have a
severe impairment, she is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's
impairments, either individually 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, she is
presumptively disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to
step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant can
still perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can perform past relevant
work, she is not disabled; if she cannot, the burden shifts
to the Commissioner.
five, the Commissioner must establish 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.
performed the sequential analysis, as noted above. At step
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity from her alleged onset date through her date
last insured. Tr. 797. At step two, the ALJ determined the
following impairments were medically determinable and severe:
"osteoarthritis, coronary artery disease, hypertension,
ischemic heart disease, duodenal ulcer, hypothyroidism,
obesity, diabetes mellitus, and chronic back pain."
Id. At step three, the ALJ determined plaintiffs
impairments, neither individually nor in combination, met or
equaled the requirements of a listed impairment. Tr. 800.
he did not establish presumptive disability at step three,
the ALJ continued to evaluate how plaintiffs impairments
affected her ability to work. The ALJ resolved plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform
modified sedentary work with the following limitations:
[Plaintiff] must avoid concentrated exposure to heat, cold,
wet environments, and concentrated exposure to noxious fumes
and odors. She should not have fingered ...