United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge
Clarence L. brings this action pursuant to the Social
Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to
obtain judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner").
The Commissioner previously denied plaintiff's
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income
("SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
7, 2013, plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging
disability beginning February 5, 2013, due to a shattered
femur in the left leg caused by a gunshot wound, anxiety, and
nerve pain. His claims were denied initially on September 23,
2013, and on reconsideration on April 30, 2014. Plaintiff
then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"). An administrative hearing was held on
September 30, 2015, where plaintiff was represented by
counsel. Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert ("VE")
testified at the hearing. The ALJ found plaintiff not
disabled under the Act in a written decision issued November
02, 2015. After the Appeals Council denied review, plaintiff
filed the present complaint in this Court.
district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if
it is based upon proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 622 F.3d 1228, 1231
(9th Cir. 2010). "Substantial evidence is more than a
mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Gutierrez v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec, 740 F, 3d 519, 522 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citation and quotation marks omitted). The court must weigh
"both the evidence that supports and the evidence that
detracts from the ALJ's conclusion." Mayes v.
Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001). If the
evidence is subject to more than one interpretation but the
Commissioner's decision is rational, the Commissioner
must be affirmed, because "the court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner." Edhtnd
v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
initial burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the plaintiff 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(a)(4); id. § 416.920(a)(4). At step
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in
"substantial gainful activity" since February 5,
2013, the alleged disability onset date. Tr. 24; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), (b); id.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(i), (b). At step two, the ALJ
found plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
"degenerative disc disease, right knee osteoarthritis
and meniscal tear, left femur fracture status post
reconstructive surgery, affective disorder, anxiety disorder,
and alcohol abuse." Tr. 24; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), (c); id. §§
416.920(a)(4)(ii), (c). At step three, the ALJ determined
plaintiff's impairments, whether considered singly or
collectively, did not meet or equal "one of the listed
impairments" that the Commissioner acknowledges are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. Tr.
24-25; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), (d);
id. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii), (d).
then assessed plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); id.
§ 416.920(e). In addition to other limitations not
relevant to this appeal, the ALJ found plaintiff was able to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except he can frequently push, pull, and operate
foot control with his left lower extremity. He can frequently
crawl, crouch, stoop, balance, and climb ramps and stairs . .
. occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds . . .
[but] is limited to performing simple, routine tasks and
making simple work-related decisions. He is limited to
frequent interactions with supervisors, coworkers, and the
Tr. 26. At step four, the ALJ concluded plaintiff could not
perform any of his past relevant work. Tr. 33; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), (f). At step five, however,
the ALJ found that plaintiff could perform work existing in
the national economy; specifically, plaintiff could work as a
mail room sorter, routing clerk, or agricultural produce
sorter. Tr. 34; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v),
(g)(1). Accordingly, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled and
denied his applications for benefits.
contends in this Court that the ALJ committed harmful error
in failing to further develop the record and obtain new
expert opinions regarding plaintiffs ...