United States District Court, D. Oregon
W. Brewer LAW OFFICES OF BRUCE W. BREWER, PC Attorney for
J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY District of Oregon Renata
Gowie ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Alexis L. Toma SPECIAL
ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Office of the General
Counsel Social Security Administration Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ United States District Judge
Jana Kreindel brings this action seeking judicial review of
the Commissioner's final decision to deny disability
insurance benefits (DIB). This Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court affirms the
applied for DIB on August 24, 2009, alleging an onset date of
January 1, 2008. Tr. 131-132. Her application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 67, 69-73 (Initial);
Tr. 68, 75-78 (Reconsideration). On March 6, 2012, Plaintiff
appeared with counsel for a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 32-66. At the hearing, Plaintiff amended
her alleged onset date to April 1, 2011. Tr. 36. On March 22,
2012, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 11-26. The
Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-6.
September 13, 2013, Plaintiff appealed the March 2012 ALJ
decision to the District Court. On September 30, 2014, upon
the stipulation of the parties, the District Court remanded
the case for further administrative proceedings. Tr. 614-29.
20, 2015, Plaintiff appeared with counsel for a new hearing.
Tr. 578-608. At this second hearing, Plaintiff amended her
alleged onset date again, to August 1, 2009. Tr. 590. On
September 25, 2015, the new ALJ also found Plaintiff not
disabled. Tr. 549-577. The Appeals Council again denied
review. Tr. 521-24.
alleges disability based on having endometriosis, irritable
bowel syndrome, migraines, pan-hypopituitarism,
musculoskeletal and abdominal pain, and fibromyalgia. Tr.
153, 586-87, 593, 596, 600-03. At the time of the July 2015
hearing, she was twenty-eight years old and not working. Tr.
584, 588. She holds a bachelor's degree and has past
relevant work experience as a reservation clerk. Tr. 594,
claimant is disabled if 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. §§
claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure.
See Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th
Cir. 2009) (in social security cases, agency uses five-step
procedure to determine disability). The claimant bears the
ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
one, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is
engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” If so,
the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b),
two, the Commissioner determines 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), 416.920(c). If not, the
claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether plaintiff's
impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal
“one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges is so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity.” Yuckert, 482
U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d).
If so, the claimant is conclusively presumed disabled; if
not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform “past relevant work.”
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the
claimant can perform past relevant work, the claimant is not
disabled. If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work,
the burden shifts to the Commissioner.
five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can
perform other work. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) &
(f). If the Commissioner meets his burden and proves that the
claimant is able to perform other work which exists in the
national economy, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1566, 416.966.
one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date
through her date of last insured. Tr. 555. At step two, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff has severe impairments of
headache disorder, pan-hypopituitarism, endometriosis, and
obesity. Id. At step three, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal, singly or
in combination, a listed impairment. Tr. 557.
four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the following RFC:
[T]hrough the date last insured, the claimant had the [RFC]
to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(a) in which she stands, walks, or sits for no more
than six hours total each in an eight hour day, and lifts no
more than 10 pounds occasionally, except that she can no more
than frequently balance, kneel, climb or crawl; occasionally
crouch, stoop, and reach overhead; due to her history of
recurring headaches, she would function best in a low-stress
work environment, and so would be limited to simple, routine,
Tr. 558. With this RFC, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is
unable to perform any of her past ...