United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Wall, Attorneys for Plaintiff.
J. Williams, United States Attorney, and Renata Gowie,
Assistant United States Attorney, Sarah Moum, Special
Assistant United States Attorney, Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon, United States District Judge.
Ms. Har Bar, filed a motion requesting a remand order
pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C. 405(g). Because
Plaintiff has presented evidence material to her claim for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), as well as
good cause for not submitting the evidence earlier, her
motion for remand is GRANTED.
District Court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
it is based on the proper legal standards and the findings
are supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); Molina v. Astrue, 673 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th
Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion” and is more than a “mere
scintilla” of the evidence but less than a
preponderance. Id. at 1110-11 (quotation omitted).
The Court must uphold the ALJ's findings if they
“are supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the
record[, ]” even if the evidence is susceptible to
multiple rational interpretations. Id. at 1110. The
Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Batson v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). “[A]
reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole
and may not affirm simply by isolating a specific quantum of
supporting evidence.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d
625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007) (quotation omitted).
filed her application for SSI on July 29, 2013, alleging
disability as of May 30, 2012. AR 74. The claim was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, and Plaintiff timely
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which was held on November 4, 2015. AR
40-72. After the hearing, ALJ Sue Leise issued a partially
favorable decision dated March 2, 2016, finding Plaintiff
disabled from July 29, 2013 through September 1, 2015, based
on the severe impairments of fibromyalgia and depression. AR
21-32. On April 20, 2017, the Appeals Council granted
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision,
and determined that the ALJ erred by finding that Plaintiff
was disabled for a period of time instead of finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the ALJ's
decision, March 2, 2016. AR 181-83. The Appeals Council
allowed Plaintiff to submit additional briefing and evidence
pursuant to the April 20, 2017 decision. AR 82.
Plaintiff subsequently submitted a legal brief and new
evidence, on June 26, 2017, the Appeals Council essentially
affirmed its earlier decision. AR 1-10. With regard to the
new evidence, the Appeals Council stated, “this
additional evidence does not show a reasonable probability
that it would change the outcome of this decision. The
Appeals Council did not consider and exhibit this
evidence.” AR 6. Accordingly, the new evidence was not
made part of the administrative record, and therefore the
Appeals Council's determination that Plaintiff was not
disabled became the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff now seeks a remand for further proceedings to
consider the new evidence pursuant to sentence six of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
June 1985, Plaintiff was 28 years old on the alleged
disability onset date and 30 years old at the time of the
second administrative hearing. AR 75. She cannot speak
English, and indicated she attended school through the ninth
grade. AR 27, 219, 221. She alleges disability due to AIDS,
fibromyalgia, psychosis, major depression, PTSD, chronic
pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, and nausea, and vomiting.
The Sequential Analysis
claimant is disabled if he or 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. §
432(d)(1)(A). “Social Security Regulations set out a
five-step sequential process for determining whether an
applicant is disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act.” Keyser v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). Each step is
potentially dispositive. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The
five-step sequential process asks the following series of
1. Is the claimant performing “substantial gainful
activity?” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). This
activity is work involving significant mental or physical
duties done or intended to be done for pay or profit. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1510. If the claimant is performing such
work, she is not disabled within the meaning of the Act. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). If the ...