United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge.
Nathan A. 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
previously denied plaintiffs applications for Supplemental
Security Income ("SSI"). For the reasons set forth
below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
applied for SSI on March 22, 2013. In his application,
plaintiff alleged disability beginning on November 29, 2012.
The claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ"). An administrative hearing took place
on July 11, 2015, where plaintiff was represented by counsel.
Plaintiff and a vocational expert ("VE") testified.
On October 28, 2015, the ALJ issued a ruling finding that
plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. The Appeals Council
denied plaintiffs request for review. Plaintiff then 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." Edlund
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 March 22,
2013, the application date. Tr. 18; 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: "bilateral
sensorineural hearing loss and status post stab wound in the
left arm." Tr. 18; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(h), (c); id. §§
416.920(a)(4)(h), (c). 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. T. 19-20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), (d); id.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii), (d).
then assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); id.
§ 416.920(e). The ALJ found that plaintiff has the
capacity to perform medium work . . . except the [plaintiff]
should avoid climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. The
[plaintiff] is right hand dominant. The [plaintiff] can
perform only occasional fingering. The [plaintiff] is limited
to frequent handling and grasping 10 pounds and occasional
handling and grasping of 20 pounds with his left hand. The
[plaintiff] must avoid even moderate exposure to hazards. The
[plaintiff] should avoid extremes of noise. The [plaintiff]
should work in a noise level of three or less.
four, the ALJ noted plaintiff has no past relevant work
experience. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. At step five, however,
the ALJ found that plaintiff could perform work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy; specifically,
plaintiff could work as a counter clerk, furniture rental
clerk, or greeter. Tr. 22; 20 C.F.R. §§