United States District Court, D. Oregon
KATHERINE EITENMILLER MARK A. MANNING Harder Wells Baron
& Manning Attorneys for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS RENATA GOWIE MICHAEL W. PILE HEATHER L. GRIFFITH
Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kelly H. 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 DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Remand, AFFIRMS
the decision of the Commissioner, and
DISMISSES this matter.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on August 10, 2012,
alleging a disability onset date of January 31, 2010. Tr.
156-59. The applications were denied initially and
on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on March 17, 2016. Tr. 33-62. At the hearing
Plaintiff was represented by an non-attorney representative.
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified at the
issued a decision on May 6, 2016, in which he found Plaintiff
is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits.
Tr. 20-32. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d) that
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on
September 12, 2017, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-6. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on May 2, 1979, and was 37 years old at the time of
the hearing. Tr. 159. Plaintiff has a high-school education.
Tr. 191. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a
mobile-home utility worker, carpet-layer, and courtesy clerk.
alleges disability due to “severe back muscle
spasms.” Tr. 71.
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. 24-26.
initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish
disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9th Cir. 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, 459B60 (9th Cir.
2001)). The 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).
The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in the medical evidence, and resolving ambiguities.
Vasquez v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591
(9thCir. 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. 2006).
The Regulatory Sequential Evaluation
One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(I),
416.920(a)(4)(I). See also Keyser v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011).
Two the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant does not have any medically severe
impairments or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). See
also Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724. At Step Three the claimant
is disabled if the Commissioner determines the claimant's
impairments meet or equal one of the listed impairments that
the Commissioner acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). See also
Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724. The criteria for the listed
impairments, known as Listings, are enumerated in 20 C.F.R.
part 404, subpart P, appendix 1 (Listed Impairments).
Commissioner proceeds beyond Step Three, she must assess the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC). The
claimant's RFC is an assessment of the sustained,
work-related physical and mental activities the claimant can
still do on a regular and continuing basis despite his
limitations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
See also Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-8p.
“A 'regular and continuing basis' means 8 hours
a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent schedule."
SSR 96-8p, at *1. In other words, the Social Security Act
does not require complete ...