United States District Court, D. Oregon
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICIA SULLIVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sean G. brings this action pursuant to the Social Security
Act (the "Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (the "Commissioner") denying
plaintiff Supplemental Security Income ("SSI")
under Title XVI of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et
seq. For the following reasons, the Court should AFFIRM
the Commissioner's decision.
protectively filed for SSI on May 31, 2011, alleging a
disability onset date of November 26, 1980, his date of
birth. Tr. 127. His claim was denied initially on October
6, 2011, and on reconsideration on May 7, 2012. Tr. 49-61,
62-74. On June 27, 2012, plaintiff requested a hearing, which
was held on October 24, 2013, in Portland, Oregon, before
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Dan R. Hyatt. Tr.
89, 35-48. Plaintiff testified, represented by counsel; a
vocational expert ("VE"), Gary Jesky, also
testified. Id. On December 6, 2013, ALJ Hyatt issued
a decision finding plaintiff not disabled under the Act and
denying benefits. Tr. 15-29. Plaintiff requested Appeals
Council review, which was denied January 31, 2015. Tr. 1-4,
10. Plaintiff then sought review before this District Court.
15, 2016, District Judge Anna J. Brown of this Court issued
an Opinion and Order, holding that ALJ Hyatt erred in denying
plaintiff benefits, and reversing and remanding the
Commissioner's decision for further administrative
proceedings, with specific instructions for the ALJ on
remand. Tr. 797-817; No. 3:15-cv-00535-BR (Docket No. 20).
Specifically, Judge Brown held that ALJ Hyatt erred at step
five of the sequential five-step disability analysis in
failing to limit plaintiff to jobs that required only
one-to-two step instructions, due to the limitation to
"simple, repetitive tasks" in the Residual
Functional Capacity ("RFC") analysis and
hypothetical question to the VE. Tr. 806-09. On July 19,
2016, pursuant to the Court's order, the Appeals Council
issued a remand order to the ALJ. Tr. 820.
remand, ALJ Robert F. Campbell held a hearing in Portland,
Oregon on December 6, 2016, at which plaintiff testified,
represented by counsel; VE Robert Gaffney also testified, as
did plaintiffs mother, Julie M. F.. Tr. 735-765. On February
7, 2017, ALJ Campbell issued a decision finding plaintiff not
disabled under the Act and denying benefits. Tr. 711-727.
Plaintiff again sought review before this Court.
was born in 1980. Tr. 127. He has a community college degree
in graphic design, and currently studies part-time at
Portland State University, where he is working towards a
degree in graphic design and participates in the fencing
club. Tr. 42, 328, 492, 741, 745. Plaintiff began attending
special education classes in elementary school, and continues
to receive various educational accommodations. Tr. 157, 199,
360-61, 707, 855. Plaintiff previously worked part-time at a
sporting goods store. Tr. 38-39, 148-49, 209. Plaintiff has
been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder,
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cognitive disorder,
depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder
("PTSD"), panic disorder, developmental disorder
(on the autism spectrum), and personality disorder (with
dependent and avoidant features, and histrionic traits). Tr.
204-08, 237, 247, 328, 334-36, 397, 412, 443, 691. He has
received mental health counseling on and off for multiple
years, and has been prescribed multiple psychotropic
medications. Tr. 205, 236, 243, 345, 389, 392-94, 443, 452,
750. Plaintiff lives alone, with a companion dog. Tr. 128,
court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is
based on proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. Hammock
v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial
evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quotation omitted).
The court must weigh "both the evidence that supports
and detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusion."
Martinez v. Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir.
1986). "Where the evidence as a whole can support either
a grant or a denial, [the court] may not substitute [its]
judgment for the ALJ's." Massachi v.
Astrue, 486 F.3d 1149, 1152 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation
omitted); see also Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676,
680-81 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding that the court "must
uphold the ALJ's decision where the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation").
"[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).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant 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 process for
determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. First, the Commissioner
determines whether a claimant is engaged in "substantial
gainful activity"; if so, the claimant is not disabled.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(b), 416.920(b). At 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). A severe impairment is one
"which significantly limits [the claimant's]
physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities[.]" 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) &
416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141. At step three, the
Commissioner determines whether the impairments meet or equal
"one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity." Id; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is
conclusively presumed disabled; if not, the analysis
proceeds. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
point, the Commissioner must evaluate medical and other
relevant evidence to determine the claimant's
"residual functional capacity" ("RFC"),
an assessment of work-related activities that the claimant
may still perform on a regular and continuing basis, despite
any limitations his impairments impose. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 404.1545(b)-(c), 416.920(e),
416.945(b)-(c). At the fourth step, the Commissioner
determines whether the claimant can perform "past
relevant work." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant
can work, he is not disabled; if he cannot perform past
relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 146 n.5. At step five, the
Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform
other work that exists in significant numbers in the national