United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Wall Attorney for Plaintiff
J. Williams Renata Gowie U.S. Attorney's Office District
L. Toma Social Security Administration Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jay V. brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382(c)(3)). Because the Commissioner's decision
is free of legal error and supported by substantial evidence,
it is affirmed and this case is dismissed.
was born on August 17, 1960, and was fifty years old on March
31, 2011, the alleged disability onset date. Tr. 14,
Plaintiff earned a high school diploma and has past relevant
work experience as a machinist. Tr. 21. Plaintiff claims he
is disabled based on alleged chronic headaches, left shoulder
degenerative joint disease, and degenerative disc disease of
the cervical spine. Plaintiff's benefits application was
denied initially on December 4, 2013, and on reconsideration
on April 9, 2014. Tr. 14. A hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Steve Lynch on
October 27, 2015. Tr. 28-56. ALJ Lynch issued a written
decision on November 23, 2015, finding Plaintiff not
disabled. Tr. 11-27. The Appeals Council declined review,
rendering ALJ Lynch's decision the Commissioner's
final decision that Plaintiff now challenges in this Court.
claimant is disabled if 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. §
423(d)(1)(A). Disability claims are evaluated according to a
five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). 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). 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). If
not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether claimant'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, the claimant is not disabled. If the
claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts
to the Commissioner. At 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 its 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 found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from March 31, 2011, through
December 31, 2014. Tr. 16.
two, the ALJ found the Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: “left shoulder degenerative joint disease,
degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, and chronic
headache.” Tr. 16.
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments. Tr. 17.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
had the RFC to perform light work with the following
limitations: “[Plaintiff] can occasionally climb,
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant is
limited to occasional overhead reaching with the non-dominant
left upper extremity.” Tr. 18.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could not perform any