Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Angela Y. v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

January 21, 2019

ANGELA Y.,[1] Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          Lisa R.J. Porter J.P. LAW P.C. Attorney for Plaintiff

          Renata Gowie Martha A. Boden Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Angela Y. brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). This Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). The Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on December 12, 2013, alleging disability as of August 12, 2010. Tr. 104-05.[2] Plaintiff amended her onset date to October 9, 2012, at the hearing. Tr. 20, 48. Plaintiff's date last insured (“DLI”) is December 31, 2015. Tr. 104-05. Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 189-93, 195-216. On May 4, 2016, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 46. On June 2, 2016, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 37. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff initially alleged disability based on bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, depression, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, arthritis, asthma, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and “neck/spine/skull” pain. Tr. 343. She was 37 at the time of her amended alleged onset date and 41 at the time of the administrative hearing. Tr. 36. Plaintiff has a high school education and past relevant work experience as a pharmacy technician. Tr. 36.

         SEQUENTIAL DISABILITY ANALYSIS

         A claimant is disabled if unable 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). Disability claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure. See, e.g., Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.

         In the first step, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” If so, the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). In step two, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or combination of impairments.” Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137 at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.

         In step three, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment meets or equals “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 141; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If so, the claimant is conclusively presumed disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.

         In step four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant, despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional capacity to perform “past relevant work.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant can, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. In step five, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant can perform other work. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets his burden and proves that the claimant is able to perform other work which exists in the national economy, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1566, 416.966.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity after her amended alleged onset date of October 9, 2012. Tr. 22. Next, at steps two and three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: “fibromyalgia; migraines/headaches; irritable bowel syndrome; obesity; and asthma.” Tr. 22. However, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of a listed impairment. Tr. 24. At step four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with the following limitations:

[T]he claimant can frequently push and pull with the bilateral upper extremities; can frequently climb ramps and stairs; can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, vibration and hazards (such as unprotected heights and exposure [to] moving mechanical parts); should avoid even moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases and poor ventilation; can understand and remember simple instructions; has sufficient concentration, persistence, and pace to complete simple, routine tasks for a normal workday and workweek with normal breaks; should have only occasional contact with general public and coworkers; should have no over the shoulder supervision; and should be in a workplace with few changes to the work setting.

Tr. 23. Because of these limitations the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work as a Pharmacy Technician. Tr. 36. But at step five the ALJ found that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, such as “Folder, ” “Marker, ” and “Assembler of Small Products I.” Tr. 36-37. Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled. Tr. 37.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The reviewing court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if the Commissioner applied proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). “Substantial evidence” means “more than a mere scintilla, but less than preponderance.” Bray v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995)). It is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.

         The court must weigh the evidence that supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998)). The reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Id. (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)); see also Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001). Variable interpretations of the evidence are insignificant if the Commissioner's interpretation is a rational reading. Id.; see also Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193. However, the court cannot not rely upon reasoning the ALJ did not assert in affirming the ALJ's findings. Bray, 554 F.3d at 1225-26 (citing SEC v. Chenery Corp., 332 U.S. 194, 196 (1947)).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by: (1) improperly discrediting Plaintiff's subjective symptom testimony; (2) giving partial weight to the opinion of examining licensed psychologist, Keli Dean, Psy.D; and (3) giving little weight to the opinion of Jeremy Adversalo, LPC. Pl. Op. Br. 19-26, ECF 12. Because the Court finds the ALJ erred in giving partial weight to the opinion of Dr. Dean, this case is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

         I. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.