United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
A. MANNING Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning, P.C. KARLE.
OSTERHOUT Osterhout Berger Disability Law, LLC Of Attorneys
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney
RENATAGOWIE Assistant United States Attorney District of
Oregon CATHERINE ESCOBAR . Special Assistant United States
Attorney Of Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
B. ("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 is
filed for DIB on December 14, 2012, alleging disability as of
December 12, 2012, due to depression; anxiety; diabetes; high
blood pressure; bone spurs; "lower neck injury;"
"back injury;" bilateral shoulder arthritis; and
bilateral shoulder bursitis. Tr. 184. His application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 16. A hearing
was held on October 11, 2016, before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ"); Plaintiff was represented by an
attorney, and testified, as did a vocational expert
("VE"). Tr. 35-74. On December 6, 2016, ALJ Mary
Kay Rauenzahn issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled. Tr. 16-27. Plaintiff requested timely review of the
ALJ's decision and, after the Appeals Council denied his
request for review, filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-3.
1962, Plaintiff was 50 years old on his alleged disability
onset date. Tr. 25. He completed high school, and previously
worked as a tow truck driver. Tr. 185-86.
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. 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 disabled.
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(c). If the claimant does not have a
severe impairment, he is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's
impairments, either singly or in combination, meet or equal
"one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity." Yuckert, 482
U.S. at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If so, the
claimant is ...