United States District Court, D. Oregon
W. BREWER P.O. Box 421 West Linn, OR 97068 (503) 621-6633
Attorney for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney
MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel JORDAN D.
GODDARD Special Assistant United States Attorney Social
Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
Darren Lamear seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which she denied Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the
Social Security Act. Plaintiff also filed a Motion (#17) for
Remand seeking an order remanding this matter under sentence
six, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), for additional proceedings.
This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's
final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion
for Remand, AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner, and
DISMISSES this matter.
filed an application for DIB on August 5, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of January 1, 2011. Tr.
198.The application was denied initially and on
reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on March 10, 2016. Tr. 39-81. At the hearing
Plaintiff amended his disability onset date to March 21,
2012. Tr. 36. Plaintiff was represented at the hearing.
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified.
issued a decision on March 25, 2016, in which he found
Plaintiff was not disabled before his September 30, 2014,
date last insured and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 27-39. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d),
that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
on April 12, 2017, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 8-13. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on November 9, 1964, and was 51 years old at the
time of the hearing. Tr. 198. Plaintiff completed high school
and two years of college. Tr. 46. Plaintiff has past relevant
work experience as a customer-service representative,
cashier, and stockbroker. Tr. 65.
alleges disability during the relevant period due to
"[f]ragmented disc, separated disc, bulging disc, [and]
neuropathy." Tr. 104.
when 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. 30-32.
initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish
disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9thCir. 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 proper
evaluation of the evidence. McLeod v. Astrue, 640
F.3d 881, 885 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Mayes
v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459-60 (9th Cir.
district 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 as a whole.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See also Brewes v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th
Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is "relevant evidence
that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion." Molina, 674 F.3d. at 1110-11
(quoting Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin.,
574 F.3d 685, 690 (9th Cir. 2009)) . "It is
more than a mere scintilla [of evidence] but less than a
preponderance." Id. (citing Valentine,
574 F.3d at 690).
is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in the medical evidence, and resolving ambiguities.
Vasquez v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591 (9th
Cir. 2009). The court must weigh all of the evidence whether
it supports or detracts from the Commissioner's decision.
Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 528 F.3d 1194, 1198
(9th Cir. 2008). Even when the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
court must uphold the Commissioner's findings if they are
supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the record.
Ludwig v. Astrue, 681 F.3d 1047, 1051
(9th Cir. 2012). The court may not substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner. Widmark v.
Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1070 (9th Cir.
Regulatory Sequential Evaluation
Commissioner has developed a five-step sequential inquiry to
determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning
of the Act. Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746
(9th Cir. 2007). See also 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520. Each step is potentially dispositive.
One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(I). See also
Keyser v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 648 F.3d 721, 724
(9th Cir. 2011).
Two the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant does not have any medically severe
impairment or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1509, 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). See also
Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724.
Three the claimant is disabled if the Commissioner determines
the claimant's impairments meet or equal one of the
listed impairments that the Commissioner acknowledges are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a) (4) (iii) . See also Keyser, 648
F.3d at 724. The criteria for the listed impairments, known
as Listings, are enumerated in 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P,
appendix 1 (Listed Impairments).
Commissioner proceeds beyond Step Three, she must assess the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC). The
claimant's RFC is an assessment of the sustained,
work-related physical and mental activities the claimant can
still do on a regular and continuing basis despite his
limitations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e). See also
Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-8p. "A 'regular and
continuing basis' means 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week,
or an equivalent schedule." SSR 96-8p, at *1. In other
words, the Social Security Act does not require complete
incapacity to be ...