United States District Court, D. Oregon
Stephen E.J. Plaintiff, 
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,  Defendant
E. HAAPALA, JR. Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. WILLIAM United States Attorney, RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney, MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief
Counsel, RYAN LU Special Assistant United States Attorney
Social Security Administration, Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Stephen E. J. seeks judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which the Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application
for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the
Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction to review
the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the
decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES
protectively filed his initial application for DIB benefits
on January 6, 2012. Tr. 152. Plaintiff alleged a disability
onset date of November 19, 2007. Plaintiff's application
was denied initially and on reconsideration. An
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on November 13,
2013. Tr. 57-110. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE)
testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the
December 5, 2015, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found
Plaintiff was not disabled for the period of November 2007
through March 2013 and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 152-60.
December 26, 2013, Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals
Council. Tr. 234-36.
7, 2015, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's decision
on the ground that the ALJ had incorrectly determined the
final date for Plaintiff's insured status. The Appeals
Council remanded the case to the ALJ to reassess
Plaintiff's claim based on the correct disability period
of November 19, 2007, to September 30, 2014. The Appeals
Council directed the ALJ to obtain additional evidence
concerning the Plaintiff's impairment in order to
complete the administrative record; to consider the evidence
or record through the relevant period at issue; to
“offer” the Plaintiff an opportunity for an
evidentiary hearing; and to issue a new decision. Tr. 169-70.
November 5, 2015, the ALJ held another hearing. Tr. 34-55.
Plaintiff testified and was represented by an attorney.
January 8, 2016, the ALJ issued a second opinion in which he
again found Plaintiff was not disabled for the period of
November 2007 through September 2014 and, therefore, is not
entitled to benefits. Tr. 16-25.
January 11, 2016, Plaintiff again requested review of the
ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. Tr. 11-12. On
April 7, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request to review the ALJ's
decision, and the ALJ's decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-3. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court seeking
review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born on August 28, 1960. Tr. 24. Plaintiff was 54 years
old on the date he was last insured. Tr. 24. Plaintiff has a
high-school education. Tr. 24. The ALJ found Plaintiff has
past relevant work as an HVAC installer. Tr. 24.
alleges disability due to a right-knee injury, ruptures in
his neck, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with
disc herniation, obesity, and two hernias with radial
myopathy. Tr. 218.
as noted, Plaintiff does not challenge the ALJ's summary
of the medical evidence. After carefully reviewing the
medical records, this Court adopts the ALJ's summary of
the medical evidence. See Tr. 35-42.
initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish
disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9th Cir. 2012). To meet this burden, a claimant must
demonstrate his inability “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). The ALJ must
develop the record when there is ambiguous evidence or when
the record is inadequate to allow for ...