United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
E. OSTERHOUT Osterhout Berger Disability Law, LLC, MARK A.
MANNING Harder Wells Baron & Manning, PC, Of Attorneys
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney, RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney District of Oregon, ERIN F. HIGHLAND
Special Assistant United States Attorney Office of the
General Counsel, Of Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA UNITED SPATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
S. ("Plaintiff) seeks judicial review of the final
decision by the Social Security Commissioner
("Commissioner") denying his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title
II of the Social Security Act ("SSA"). This Court
has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Based on a careful
review of the record, the Commissioner's decision should
filed for DIB on March 20, 2014, alleging disability
beginning March 1, 2012. (Tr. 97.) Plaintiff subsequently
amended the alleged onset date to May 1, 2013. (Tr. 222.)
Plaintiff alleges disability due to depression, arthritis,
back problems, muscle spasms, blindness, and poor memory.
(Tr. 98, 285.) His application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 97, 110.) Two hearings were convened in
this matter: the first occurred on February 11, 2016 before
an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"); Plaintiff was
represented by counsel and testified, as did a vocational
expert ("VE"). (Tr. 56-96.) A supplemental ALJ
hearing took place on June 10, 2016, in which a
Plaintiff-provided VE testified. (Tr. 38-53.) Thereafter, the
ALJ submitted interrogatory questions to the VE who testified
at the first hearing. (Tr. 392-97.) On January 13, 2017, ALJ
Sue Leise issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled.
(Tr. 29.) Plaintiff requested timely review of the ALJ's
decision and, after the Appeals Council denied her 1 request
for review, filed a complaint in this Court. (Tr. 1-3.)
1968, Plaintiff was 44 years old on his alleged amended
disability onset date. (Tr. 32.) Plaintiff attended school
through the tenth grade, and previously worked as a ranch
hand. (Tr. 25, 226.)
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. Hammock
v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial
evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation and internal
quotations omitted). The court must weigh "both the
evidence that supports and detracts from the
[Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v.
Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). Variable
interpretations of the evidence are insignificant if the
Commissioner's interpretation is rational. Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant 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.
§§ 404.1502 and; 404.1520. First, the Commissioner
considers whether a claimant is engaged in "substantial:
gainful activity." Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(b). If so, the claimant is not
two, the Commissioner evaluates 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(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant ...