United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Yim You United States Magistrate Judge.
Norman N., seeks judicial review of the final decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act (“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§
401-433, 1381-1383f. This court has jurisdiction to review
the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) and § 1383(c)(3). All parties have consented to
allow a Magistrate Judge to enter final orders and judgment
in this case in accordance with FRCP 73 and 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) (ECF #10). For the reasons below, the
Commissioner's decision is REVERSED and REMANDED for
January 26, 2015, plaintiff protectively filed for DIB and
SSI alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2014. Tr.
He requested a hearing after his application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 93, 99, 102, 105. On
December 14, 2016, a hearing was held before Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) S. Pines, wherein plaintiff was
represented by counsel and testified, as did a vocational
expert (“VE”). Tr. 37-55. ALJ Pines issued a
decision on February 16, 2017, finding plaintiff not disabled
within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 18-30. After the Appeals
Council denied his request for review, plaintiff filed a
complaint in this court. Tr. 1-5. The ALJ's decision is
therefore the Commissioner's final decision subject to
review by this court. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981,
1966, plaintiff was 47 years old on the alleged disability
onset date, and 50 years old at the time of his
administrative hearing. Tr. 150. He obtained a general
education diploma (“GED”). Tr. 43. He has past
relevant work experience as an assistant manager in retail.
Tr. 28. Plaintiff alleges disability due to neck surgeries,
left-shoulder surgeries, back pain, anxiety, depression, high
blood pressure, and constant severe pain. Tr. 189.
reviewing 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. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Lewis v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 909, 911
(9th Cir. 2007). This court must weigh the evidence that
supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion and
“‘may not affirm simply by isolating a specific
quantum of supporting evidence.'” Garrison v.
Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th
Cir. 2007)). The reviewing court may not substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner when the evidence can
reasonably support either affirming or reversing the
decision. Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th
Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). Instead, where the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Commissioner's decision must be upheld if it is
“supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the
record.” Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035,
1038 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); see also
Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035.
ANALYSIS AND ALJ FINDINGS
is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
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 engages in a five-step sequential
inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled within
the meaning of the Act. This sequential analysis is set forth
in Social Security Administration regulations, 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920, in Ninth Circuit case law,
Lounsburry v. Barnhart, 468 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th
Cir. 2006) (discussing Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d
1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999)), and in the ALJ's
decision, Tr. 18-20.
one, the ALJ concluded plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2014, the
alleged onset date of disability. Tr. 20.
two, the ALJ determined that plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: status post left shoulder decompression
and labral tear repair; chronic low back and neck pain,
status post cervical fusion; hypertension; obesity;
depression; and anxiety disorder. Id.
three, the ALJ concluded plaintiff did not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or equaled any listed
impairment. Tr. 21-23.
then found plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform less than the full range of
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b),
416.967(b), with the following limitations:
[He] can stand and walk for four hours, can sit for six
hours; can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; can never
climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; can occasionally reach
overhead, and can frequently reach in other directions; can
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; should
not have concentrated exposure to hazards; can have
occasional contact with the public; and limited to simple
routine work at the unskilled level.
four, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was unable to perform
his past relevant work. Tr. 28.
five, the ALJ determined that plaintiff could perform jobs
that exist in significant No. in the national economy,
including storage facility rental clerk, price marker, and
small products assembler. Tr. 29-30. Accordingly, the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff was not disabled at any time through
the date of her decision. Tr. 30.
argues that the ALJ erred by: (1) failing to give clear and
convincing reasons for discounting his symptom testimony, and
(2) failing to give legally sufficient reasons for rejecting
the opinions of Dominique Greco, MD, ...