United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
AIKEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Amanda Andrus-Karker brings this action pursuant to the
Social Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) and 1383(c)(3), to obtain judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner"). The Commissioner denied
plaintiffs application for Supplemental Security Income
("SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is REVERSED and REMANDED for
23, 2011, plaintiff applied for SSI. She alleged disability
beginning January 1, 2000. After plaintiffs application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration, she requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").
A hearing was held on July 10, 2013. At the hearing,
plaintiff testified and was represented by an attorney. A
vocational expert ("VE") also testified. On July
19, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
plaintiffs claim. After the Appeals Council denied review,
plaintiff filed a complaint in the District of Oregon. On
April 1, 2015, Magistrate Judge Paul Papak issued Findings
and Recommendations ("F&R"), which recommended
reversal of the ALJ's decision and remand to the agency
for further proceedings. On June 2, 2015, District Judge
Marco Hernandez issued an Order and Judgment, adopting the
F&R, reversing and remanding for further proceedings.
remand, a hearing was held before the ALJ on May 19, 2016. A
VE and a medical expert ("ME") testified at the
hearing. On June 9, 2016, the ALJ denied plaintiffs claim for
SSI. The Appeals Council did not review the case on its own
motion. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of
the agency. Plaintiff then filed the present complaint with
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
it is based upon proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U, S.C,
§ 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 622 F.3d 1228, 1231
(9th Cir. 2010). "Substantial evidence is more than a
mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Gutierrez v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 740 F, 3d 519, 522 (9th Cir.
2014) (citation and quotation marks omitted). The court must
weigh "both the evidence that supports and the evidence
that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion." Mayes
v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001). If the
evidence is subject to more than one interpretation but the
Commissioner's decision is rational, the Commissioner
must be affirmed, because "the court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner." Edlund
v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
initial burden of proof rests upon plaintiff to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, plaintiff 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 has 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(a)(4); Id. § 416.920(a)(4). At step
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had intermittently engaged in
"substantial gainful activity" since June 23, 2011,
but not through the entire period at issue. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), (b); id.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(i), (b); §§ 416.971 et
seq. At step two, the ALJ found plaintiff had the following
severe impairments as of the alleged onset Dated: borderline
intellectual functioning, dysthma, and posttraumatic stress
disorder ("PTSD")/anxiety with social phobia. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), (c); Id.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(ii), (c).
three, the ALJ determined that plaintiffs impairments,
whether considered singly or in combination, did not 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), (d); Id. §§
then assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); Id.
§ 416.920(e). The ALJ found plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity to:
[p]erform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: she would be
limited to simple, repetitive tasks requiring no more than
occasional interaction with supervisors and no more than
brief, superficial interaction with coworkers and the general
public. This individual does not perform well in an
independent work setting, and so would function and work best
in a team setting. The claimant would also need to work in an
environment where the work is repetitive in nature and her
production speed would be increased gradually over time.
four, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had no past relevant
work history. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), (f);
§§ 416.965. At step five, however, the ALJ found
that plaintiff could perform work existing in the national
economy; specifically, plaintiff could work as a motel
cleaner, laundry folder, or industrial cleaner. 20 C.F.R.