United States District Court, D. Oregon
Katherine L. Eitenmiller Brent Wells HARDER, WELLS, BARON
& MANNING, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiff
J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY District of Oregon Renata
Gowie ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
Moum SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Office of the
General Counsel Social Security Administration
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNANDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Antonio Villanueva brings this action seeking judicial review
of the Commissioner's final decision to deny supplemental
security income (SSI). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3)). I reverse the Commissioner's decision and
remand for the payment of benefits.
applied for SSI on June 7, 2013, alleging an onset date of
February 15, 1991. Tr. 15, 135-42. His application was
denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 60-69, 84-87
(Initial); Tr. 70-83, 95-97 (Recon.). On July 30, 2015,
Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 29-59. On September 25,
2015, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 12-28. The
Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1-5.
alleges disability based on having a foot injury from birth,
chest pain, headaches, abdominal pain, pneumonia, shortness
of breath, problems with hands and fingers, problems thinking
and paying attention, memory loss, and problems with
concentration. Tr. 151, 173, 177. At the time of the hearing,
he was twenty-four years old. Tr. 36. He completed ninth
grade. Tr. 49-50. He has no past relevant work experience.
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.
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). In 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 plaintiff'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 perform past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled.
If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner. In 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 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. §§
one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 7, 2013, his
application date and his amended alleged onset date. Tr. 17.
Next, at steps two and three, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff has severe impairments of anxiety disorder,
dysthymic disorder, and rule out borderline intellectual
functioning but that the impairments did not meet or equal,
either singly or in combination, a listed impairment. Tr.
four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform
a full range of work except he is limited to simple,
repetitive, and routine tasks, no more than occasional
interaction with supervisors and co-workers, and no contact
with the general public. Tr. 20. With this RFC, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff is able to perform jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the economy such as small products
assembler, machine feeder, and electronics worker. Tr. 24-25.
Thus, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled. Tr.
may set aside the Commissioner's denial of benefits only
when the Commissioner's findings are based on legal error
or are not supported by substantial evidence in the record as
a whole. Vasquez v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591 (9th
Cir. 2009). "Substantial evidence means 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." Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). The court considers the record as a whole,
including both the evidence that supports and detracts from
the Commissioner's decision. Id.;
Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th
Cir. 2007). "Where the evidence is susceptible to more
than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must
be affirmed." Vasquez, 572 F.3d at 591
(internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); see also
Massachi v. Astrue, 4 ...