United States District Court, D. Oregon
Merrill Schneider Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorney for
J. Williams, United States Attorney Renata A. Gowie,
Assistant United States Attorney
L. Toma Special Assistant United States Attorney Attorneys
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
JELDERKS, Magistrate Judge
Kasi Lynn Savolt (Plaintiff) brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c) seeking judicial
review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (the Commissioner) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under the Social Security
Act (the Act). For the reasons that follow, the
Commissioner's decision should be AFFIRMED.
protectively filed her application for DIB on September 16,
2013, alleging disability beginning September 13, 2013. Tr.
19. The Commissioner denied her application initially and on
reconsideration. Plaintiff appeared at a hearing on July 27,
2016, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) B. Hobbs. Tr. 42.
Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified; Nancy
Bloom, a vocational expert (VE), also testified. Tr. 42-70.
The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on August 2, 2016. Tr.
29. Plaintiff appealed, and the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-3. Plaintiff now
timely appeals the Commissioner's final decision.
was born in 1963 and was 50 years old on the date she alleges
she became disabled. Tr. 21, 203. She completed high school
and became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in 1983. Tr.
176. She has worked as a CNA and group home manager. Tr. 177.
engages in a five-step sequential inquiry to determine
whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The five step sequential inquiry
is summarized below, as described in Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999).
One. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant is
engaged in substantial gainful activity. A claimant who is
engaged in such activity is not disabled. If the claimant is
not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the Commissioner
proceeds to evaluate the claimant's case under Step Two.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b).
Two. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant
has one or more severe impairments. A claimant who does not
have any such impairment is not disabled. If the claimant has
one or more severe impairment(s), the Commissioner proceeds
to evaluate the claimant's case under Step Three. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(c).
Three. Disability cannot be based solely on a severe
impairment; therefore, the Commissioner next determines
whether the claimant's impairment “meets or
equals” one of the presumptively disabling impairments
listed in the Social Security Administration (SSA)
regulations, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. A
claimant who has an impairment that meets a listing is
presumed disabled under the Act. If the claimant's
impairment does not meet or equal an impairment in the
listings, the Commissioner's evaluation of the
claimant's case proceeds under Step Four. 20 C.F.R.
Four. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant
is able to perform work he or she has done in the past. A
claimant who can perform past relevant work is not disabled.
If the claimant demonstrates he or she cannot do past
relevant work, the Commissioner's evaluation of
claimant's case proceeds under Step Five. 20 C.F.R.
Five. The Commissioner determines whether the claimant
is able to do any other work. A claimant who cannot perform
other work is disabled. If the Commissioner finds claimant is
able to do other work, the Commissioner must show that a
significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that
claimant is able to do. The Commissioner may satisfy this
burden through the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), or
by reference to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2. If the Commissioner
demonstrates that a significant number of jobs exist in the
national economy that the claimant is able to do, the
claimant is not disabled. If the Commissioner does not meet
the burden, the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
steps one through four of the sequential inquiry, the burden
of proof is on the claimant. Tackett, 180 F.3d at
1098. At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
show the claimant can perform jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy. Id.