United States District Court, D. Oregon
WILBORN Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney, RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney.
MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel.
GOLDOFTAS Social Security Administration Office of the
General Counsel Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Harry Ray F. seeks judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in
which she denied Plaintiff's applications for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance
Benefits (DIB) under Titles XVI and II of the Social Security
reasons that follow, the Court REVERSES the
Commissioner's decision and REMANDS this
matter pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
for the immediate calculation and award of benefits.
filed his applications for SSI and DIB on December 30, 2011.
Tr. 300-09. Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date
of December 15, 2011. His applications were denied initially
and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
held a hearing on November 18, 2013. Tr. 61-98. Plaintiff and
a vocational expert (VE) testified at the hearing. Plaintiff
was represented by an attorney.
March 28, 2014, an ALJ issued an opinion in which he found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 124-30.
October 23, 2015, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's
decision. The Appeals Council noted Plaintiff's
“Residual Functional Capacity [RFC] is not consistent
with light work activity. Limiting [Plaintiff] to walking
only two hours out of an eight-hour workday is not consistent
with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)
description of light work, but is more of a semblance of
sedentary work.” Tr. 137. The Appeals Council also
noted the ALJ's decision contained “an apparent
contradiction requiring resolution . . . as to the walking
and standing required in the DOT for electrical assembly and
small products assembly positions and what the VE indicated
such hypothetical person could perform.” Tr. 138.
Finally, the Appeals Council noted apparent contradictions
between the jobs of small-products assembler and eyeglass
polisher and the “VE's testimony related to . . .
light exertional requirement[s].” Tr. 138. Accordingly,
the Appeals Council remanded the matter to a different ALJ to
“give further consideration to [Plaintiff's]
maximum [RFC], ” to obtain evidence from a medical
expert “to clarify the nature and severity of
[Plaintiff's] impairments, ” and to “obtain
supplemental evidence from a [VE].” Tr. 139.
August 19, 2016, an ALJ held a hearing on remand. Tr. 35-60.
At the hearing Plaintiff was represented by an attorney.
Plaintiff and a VE testified. At the hearing Plaintiff
amended his onset date to October 19, 2013. Tr. 38. On
November 3, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision on remand in
which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is
not entitled to benefits. Tr. 18-28. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.984(d), that decision became the final decision of
the Commissioner on June 20, 2017, when the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-5. See
Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on April 29, 1964. Tr. 300. Plaintiff was 49 years
old at the time of the first hearing and 51 years old at the
time of the hearing on remand. Plaintiff has a tenth-grade
education. Tr. 63. Plaintiff has past relevant work
experience as an industrial maintenance mechanic and conveyor
mechanic. Tr. 25.
alleges disability due to diabetes and amputation of his
right leg below the knee. Tr. 21.
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. 23-25.
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.