United States District Court, D. Oregon
REGINA C. SHAW, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
KATHERINE EITENMILLER MARK A. MANNING Harder Wells Baron
& Manning Attorneys for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief
Counsel LISA GOLDOFTAS Social Security Administration Office
of the General Counsel Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Regina C. Shaw seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which she denied Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II and
Disabled Widow Benefits under Title XVI of the Social
reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the
decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES
October 4, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB
alleging a disability onset date of November 11, 2011. Tr.
186-91. The record reflects Plaintiff also filed
for Disabled Widow Benefits on October 4, 2012. Tr. 186-91.
Her applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration. An ALJ held a hearing on April 10, 2015. Tr.
43-88. At the hearing Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE)
testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney.
28, 2015, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found
Plaintiff was not disabled before the end of the relevant
period and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr.
17-31. On August, 8, 2016, that decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-4. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on March 9, 1954. Tr. 186. Plaintiff was 61 years
old at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff has an Associates
Degree. Tr. 53. Plaintiff also has past relevant work
experience as a technical support specialist, order clerk,
and supervisor of accounting clerks. Tr. 81.
alleges disability due to depression, arthritis, vertigo,
scoliosis, fibromyalgia, insomnia, sleep apnea, and
Dercum's disease. Tr. 89.
when noted, Plaintiff does not challenge the ALJ's
summary of the medical evidence. After carefully reviewing
the medical records, this Court adopts the ALJ's summary
of the medical evidence. See Tr. 24-28.
initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish
disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9thCir. 2012). To meet this burden, a claimant
must demonstrate her inability "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).
The ALJ must develop the record when there is ambiguous
evidence or when the record is inadequate to allow for proper
evaluation of the evidence. McLeod v. Astrue, 640
F.3d 881, 885 (9th Cir. 2011)(quoting Mayes v.
Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459-60 (9th Cir.
district 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 as a whole.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See also Brewes v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th
Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is “relevant evidence
that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Molina, 674 F.3d. at
1110-11 (quoting Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 690 (9th Cir. 2009)).
It is more than a mere scintilla [of evidence] but less than
a preponderance. Id. (citing Valentine, 574
F.3d at 690).
is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in the medical evidence, and resolving ambiguities.
Vasquez v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591 (9th
Cir. 2009). The court must weigh all of the evidence whether
it supports or detracts from the Commissioner's decision.
Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 528 F.3d 1194, 1198
(9th Cir. 2008). Even when the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
court must uphold the Commissioner's findings if they are
supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the record.
Ludwig v. Astrue, 681 F.3d 1047, 1051
(9th Cir. 2012). The court may not substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner. Widmark v.
Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1070 (9th Cir.
The Regulatory Sequential Evaluation
One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(I),
416.920(a)(4)(I). See also Keyser v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011).
Two the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant does not have any medically severe
impairments or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). See
also Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724.
Three the claimant is disabled if the Commissioner determines
the claimant's impairments meet or equal one of the
listed impairments that the Commissioner acknowledges are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). See
also Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724. The criteria for the
listed impairments, known as Listings, are enumerated in 20
C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1 (Listed Impairments).
Commissioner proceeds beyond Step Three, she must assess the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC). The
claimant's RFC is an assessment of the sustained,
work-related physical and mental activities the claimant can
still do on a regular and continuing basis despite her
limitations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
See also Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-8p.
“A 'regular and continuing basis' means 8 hours
a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent schedule."
SSR 96-8p, at *1. In other words, the Social Security Act
does not require complete incapacity to be disabled.
Taylor v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 659 F.3d
1228, 1234-35 (9th Cir. 2011)(citing Fair v.
Bowen, 885 F.2d 597, 603 (9th Cir. 1989)).
Four the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant retains the RFC to perform work she
has done in the past. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). See also
Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724.
Commissioner reaches Step Five, she must determine whether
the claimant is able to do any other work that exists in the
national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v),
416.920(a)(4)(v). See also Keyser, 648 F.3d at
724-25. Here the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show a
significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that
the claimant can perform. Lockwood v. Comm'r Soc.
Sec. Admin., 616 F.3d 1068, 1071 (9thCir.
2010). The Commissioner may satisfy this burden through the
testimony of a VE or by reference to the Medical-Vocational
Guidelines set forth in the regulations at 20 ...