United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
AIKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Marquea H, brings this action pursuant to the Social Security
Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security ("Commissioner"). The Commissioner
denied plaintiffs applications for Disability Insurance
Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income
("SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
applied for DIB on August 6, 2013, and she filed for SSI on
March 2, 2015. She alleged disability beginning June 8,
due to degenerative disc disease, torn labrum, partially torn
rotator cuff, unaligned rib cage, medication limitations and
requirements, chronic neck pain, arthritis, left ulnar
neuropathy, migraines, and endometriosis.
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
On December 1, 2015, plaintiff appeared at a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Plaintiff
testified at the hearing, and was represented by counsel. A
Vocational Expert (VE) also testified. The ALJ found
plaintiff not disabled in a written decision issued January
22, 2016. After the Appeals Council denied review, plaintiff
filed the present complaint in this Court.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
it is based upon proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 622 F.3d 1228, 1231
(9th Cir. 2010). "Substantial evidence is more than a
mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Gutierrez v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec, 740 F.3d 519, 522 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citation and quotation marks omitted). The court must weigh
"both the evidence that supports and the evidence that
detracts from the ALJ's conclusion." Mayes v.
Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001). If the
evidence is subject to more than one interpretation but the
Commissioner's decision is rational, the Commissioner
must be affirmed, because "the court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner," Edhind
v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
initial burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the plaintiff 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 sequential process
for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4); id. § 416.920(a)(4). At step
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in
"substantial gainful activity" since the alleged
disability onset date. Tr. 27; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i), (b); id. §§
416.920(a)(4)(i), (b). At step two, the ALJ found plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: "degenerative disc
disease, arthritis, left ulnar neuropathy, migraines, and
endometriosis; 20 C.F.R, §§ 404.1520(c);
id. §§ 416.920(c)," Tr, 27. At step
three, the ALJ determined plaintiffs impairments, whether
considered singly or in combination, did not meet or equal
"one of the listed impairments" that the
Commissioner acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity. Tr. 28; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii), (d); id. §§
then assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); id.
§ 416.920(e), In addition to other limitations not
relevant to this appeal, the ALJ found that plaintiff had:
[f]he residual functional capacity to perform less than the
full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a)
and 416.967(a). She can lift and cany a maximum of 10 pounds.
She can push and pull within those weight limits. She can
stand and walk for two hours in an eight-hour workday. She
can sit for six horns in an eight-hour workday. She requires
the opportunity to shift from sitting to standing at will.
She should have no exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold,
humidity, and pulmonary irritants. She should have no
exposure to unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts.
She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. She can
occasionally climb ladders and scaffolds. She can
occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can
occasionally reach overhead with both arms. She can
frequently balance. She can frequently handle, finger, and
feel with her non-dominant hand. She can frequently use foot
controls with both feet.
four, the ALJ concluded plaintiff could perform her past
relevant work as a receptionist. Tr. 38; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), (f). The ALJ continued to
step five and found that plaintiff could perform work
existing in the national economy; specifically, plaintiff
could work as an appointment clerk, and/or call out operator.
Tr. 38; C.F.R. §§ ...