United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ashley O. (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of
the Commissioner of Social Security's decision denying
her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I have
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the
decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). For the
reasons stated below, I AFFIRM the ALJ's decision.
filed an application for DIB with a protective filing date of
November 30, 2010, and an application for SSI benefits with a
protective date of March 30, 2011. Tr. 1077. In both
applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning on
January 31, 2006. Id. Both claims were initially
denied on June 24, 2011, and denied again upon
reconsideration on April 2, 2012. Id. A hearing was
held before Administrative Law Judge Jo Hoenninger on July
25, 2013. Id. The ALJ denied Plaintiff's claims
on August 13, 2013, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled,
and the Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 22, 1077.
denial, Plaintiff requested review by this Court. Judge Marco
A. Hernandez reversed and remanded Plaintiff's claim for
further proceedings on April 18, 2016. Tr. 1136. Judge
Hernandez concluded that “the record contain[ed]
sufficient evidence to raise the possibility that Plaintiff
may meet the criteria for 12.05C, but [did] not conclusively
establish her entitlement to this finding.”
Id. Specifically, Judge Hernandez noted that the
validity of Plaintiff's IQ scores needed to be addressed
by the ALJ, and that Plaintiff's educational and work
history raised issues about whether onset of her impairment
began before age twenty two.Id.
the ALJ's denial of her claims, Plaintiff filed
subsequent claims for DIB and SSI benefits on November 17,
2014, and August 14, 2015 respectively. Tr. 1077. Per Judge
Hernandez's order, the Appeals Council remanded
Plaintiff's case for a supplemental hearing on July 25,
2016, and the ALJ consolidated both the old and new claim
files into a single record. Id. The supplemental
hearing was held on May 23, 2017, and on August 25, 2017 the
ALJ again issued a finding that Plaintiff was not disabled.
made her decision based upon the five-step sequential
evaluation process established by the Secretary of Health and
Human Services. See Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094,
1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520. At
the first four steps of the process, the burden of proof is
on the claimant; only at the fifth and final step does the
burden of proof shift to the Commissioner. Tackett,
180 F.3d at 1098.
One, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not engage in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of
January 31, 2006. Tr. 1078. At Steps Two and Three, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had severe impairments of back
strain, borderline intellectual functioning, affective
disorder, and anxiety disorder. But the ALJ found that none
of these impairments alone or in combination met or medically
equaled the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Tr. 1080-83.
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional
to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR §§
404.1567(c) and 416.97(c), except that she can frequently
climb ramps and stairs, occasionally climb ladders, ropes,
and scaffolds. She can occasionally kneel, crouch, and crawl.
She can frequently finger and handle with the right upper
extremity. She can understand and remember simple
instructions and make simple work-related decisions. She has
sufficient concentration, persistence, and pace to complete
simple, routine tasks for a normal workday and workweek with
normal breaks. She should only have occasional, brief
interactions with coworkers and the general public. She
should have no over the shoulder supervision. She should be
in a workplace with few changes to the work setting and work
Four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was incapable of
performing any past relevant work. At Step Five, the ALJ
found that jobs existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff could perform, and thus
concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. Tr. 1087-89.