United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Wall Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. Williams United States Attorney Reneta Gowie Assistant
United States Attorney District of Oregon Jeffrey E. Staples
Special Assistant United States Attorney Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gretchen Marie Medgin brings this action for judicial review
of the Commissioner's final decision denying her
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act. The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). Because the
Commissioner's decision was free of legal error and
supported by substantial evidence in the record, the Court
AFFIRMS the decision and DISMISSES this case.
has a bachelor's degree in nursing and was thirty-four
years old on the alleged disability onset date of November
27, 2012. Tr. 26-27. Plaintiff does not have past relevant work
experience. Tr. 34. Plaintiff's application was denied
initially on March 5, 2013, and upon reconsideration on
August 28, 2013. Tr. 15. Two hearings were held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Paul G. Robeck
on January 23, 2015, and July 24, 2015. Tr. 15, 43, 91. ALJ
Robeck issued a decision on September 10, 2015, in which he
found Plaintiff not to be disabled. Tr. 15-36. Plaintiff
sought review by the Appeals Council, but was denied, making
ALJ Robeck's decision the final decision that Plaintiff
now challenges in this Court.
claimant is disabled if 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). Disability claims are evaluated according to a
five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant
bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
first step, 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),
416.920(b). At step 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 claimant's
impairments, singly 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 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, the claimant is not disabled. If the
claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts
to the Commissioner. At step 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 its 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. §§
ALJ determines that the claimant is disabled and there is
medical evidence of a substance use disorder, the ALJ must
determine if the substance use disorder is a contributing
factor material to the determination of disability. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1535(a), 416.935(a). The ALJ must determine,
to what extent, the claimant's limitations would remain
if the claimant stopped the substance use. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1535(b)(1), 916.935(b)(1). If the remaining
limitations would not be disabling, the substance use
disorder is a contributing factor material to the
determination of disability. 20 C.F.R. §§
505.1535(b)(2), 416.935(b)(2). If so, the claimant is not
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged ...