United States District Court, D. Oregon
GAYLE L. R.,  Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINSTRATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
M. COFFIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Gayle R. brings this action for judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying her application for Title
II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). All
parties have consented to allow a Magistrate Judge enter
final orders and judgment in this case in accordance with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons
set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed
and this case is dismissed.
October 11, 2013, plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging
disability as of February 21, 2012. Tr. 167-73. Her
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Tr. 117-21, 123-25. On October 6, 2016, a hearing was held
before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), wherein
plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified, as did a
vocational expert ("VE"). Tr. 35-84. On November
25, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Tr.
20-29. After the Appeals Council denied her request for
review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-6.
1951, plaintiff was 60 years old on the alleged onset date
and 64 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 39, 167. She
graduated from high school and completed one year of college.
Tr. 41, 211. Plaintiff worked previously as bus driver and
drug/alcohol program specialist for Trimet. Tr. 62, 65-71,
212. Plaintiff alleges disability due to fibromyalgia,
chronic pain, bursitis, hypertension, sleep problems, and
post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"). Tr. 210.
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. §
404.1520. First, the Commissioner determines 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, she 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 presumptively disabled; if not, the Commissioner
proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner resolves whether the claimant can
still perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can work, she is not
disabled; if she cannot perform past relevant work, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner. At step five, the
Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform
other work existing in significant numbers in the national or
local economy. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(g). If the Commissioner meets this
burden, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
one of the five step sequential evaluation process outlined
above, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date. Tr. 22. At
step two, the ALJ determined the following impairments were
medically determinable and severe: "degenerative disc
disease, bilateral shoulder degenerative joint disease,
bursitis, fibromyalgia, and obesity." Id. At
step three, the ALJ found plaintiffs impairments, either
singly or in combination, did not meet or equal the
requirements of a listed impairment. Tr. 24.
she did not establish presumptive disability at step three,
the ALJ continued to evaluate how plaintiffs impairments
affected her ability to work. The ALJ resolved that plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to
perform light work as defined by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b)
she can stand and walk for a combined total of six hours and
can sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour day.
[Plaintiff] can frequently push and pull; frequently climb
ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and frequently
balance, stoop, ...