United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
ORDER AND OPINION
MICHAEL W. MOSMON Chief United States District Judge.
June Amorosa Page challenges the Commissioner's decision
denying her claim for disability insurance benefits. I have
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the
Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") decision.
For the reasons stated below I AFFIRM the ALJ's decision.
Page filed her first application for Title II Disability
Insurance Benefits on February 20, 2014, alleging disability
beginning January 1, 1993. This application received an
unfavorable initial review on March 8, 2014. Instead of
appealing, Ms. Page filed a new application for benefits on
April 1, 2014. The Commissioner denied the application
initially on May 9, 2014, and on reconsideration on July 14,
2014. Ms. Page filed a timely request for a hearing on July
31, 2014. An ALJ held a hearing on May 3, 2016. Although the
ALJ informed her of her right to representation, Ms. Page
appeared and testified without the assistance of an attorney
or other representative. The ALJ issued a decision on August
3, 2016, denying Ms. Page's application on the basis that
she was not under a disability, as defined by the Social
Security Act, at any time from January 1, 1993, the alleged
onset date, through September 30, 1998, her date last
insured. In February 2017, the Appeals Council denied Ms.
Page's request for review, making the decision to deny
benefits the Commissioner's final decision.
made his decision based upon step one of the five-step
sequential evaluation process established by the Secretary of
Health and Human Services. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140-42 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920
(establishing the five-step evaluative process for SSI
One, the ALJ determined that Ms. Page engaged in substantial
gainful activity in the period 2000-2003, after her date last
insured of September 30, 1998. Because the ALJ found Ms. Page
to have performed substantial gainful activity after her
insured status for disability income benefits had expired, he
could not find her disabled for the period while she was
still insured. Accordingly, the ALJ ended his analysis at
review the ALJ's decision to ensure the ALJ applied
proper legal standards and that the ALJ's findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Bray v. Comm > of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009) (explaining
that the ALJ's decision must be supported by substantial
evidence and not based on legal error).
'"Substantial evidence' means more than a mere
scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion." Lingenfelter v. Astrne,
504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Robbins v.
Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). A
judge must uphold the Commissioner's decision if it is a
rational interpretation of the evidence, even if there are
other possible rational interpretations. Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). The reviewing
court may not substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882.
overriding issue Ms. Page raises in her briefing is that the
denial of her application for disability income benefits
because she attempted to go back to work is not fair and that
she is being punished for attempting to return to work. Ms.
Page also raises five specific claims of error: (1) the ALJ
abused his discretion when he found that she engaged in
substantial gainful activity; (2) the ALJ erred when he
declined to discuss the statements from Ms. Page's
family, friends, administrative assistant, and treating
Naturopath; (3) the ALJ gave Ms. Page no choice but to go
forward with her hearing without an attorney or other
representative; (4) the ALJ erred in finding she did not have
sufficient quarters of coverage to extend her date last
insured; and (5) the Appeals Council improperly declined to
review the ALJ's decision. Despite these claims of error,
I find substantial evidence in the record supports the
The ALJ's Finding that Ms. Page Engaged in Substantial
Page argues substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's determination that she engaged in substantial
gainful activity between 2000 and 2003when she worked as
a senior engineer because she only returned to work
intermittently from spring 1999 through the fall of 2003. Ms.
Page claims that when she was working she often had
accommodations. "The concept of substantial gainful
activity involves the amount of compensation and the
substantiality and gainfulness of the activity itself.
Keyes v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1053, 1056 (9th Cir.
1990) (citing 20 C.F.R. 404.1532(b)). While not dispositive,
earnings over the amount specified in the guidelines create
the presumption of substantial gainful employment.
Id. An applicant can rebut a presumption based on
earnings with evidence of her "inability to perform the
job well, without special assistance, or for only brief
periods of time." Id.
Ms. Page earned well over the amount specified in the
guidelines, this creating the presumption that she engaged in
substantial gainful activity. The guidelines presume
substantial work activity for a non-blind individual earning
over $700 a month in 2000, over $740 a month in 2001, over
$780 a month in 2002, and over $800 a month in 2003. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1574;
monthly earnings presumptive of substantial gainful activity)
(last visited March 12, 2018). Ms. Page earned at least $3,
000 a month from 2000 to 2003: $45, 304.82 in 2000, $54,
128.76 in 2001, and $28, 881 in 2003 before ...