United States District Court, D. Oregon
Richard F. McGinty McGinty & Belcher, PC, Attorney for
J. Williams, U.S. Attorney Renata Gowie, Asst. U.S. Attorney,
Ryan Ta Lu Special Asst. U.S. Attorney Office of the General
Counsel Social Security Administration, Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
Jelderks, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) seeking
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (the Commissioner) denying her applications
for Disabled Widow's Benefits and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) under the Social Security Act (the Act).
Plaintiff requests that the Court remand this action to the
Social Security Administration (the Agency) for an award of
reasons set out below, the Commissioner's decision is
filed applications for Disabled Widow's Benefits,
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), and SSI on June 14,
2013, alleging she had been disabled since December 31, 1993.
After her claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested an administrative
October 28, 2015, a hearing was held before Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) Marilyn Mauer. At the hearing Plaintiff
amended her disability onset date to May 16, 2013. With the
amendment, Plaintiff's DIB claim was dismissed as not
meeting the insured status requirements of sections 216(i)
and 223 and only Plaintiff's claims for Disabled
Widow's Benefits and SSI remained for adjudication.
Plaintiff; Plaintiff's mother, EmmaJean Y.; and Leta
Berkshire, a vocational expert (VE), testified at the
hearing. Plaintiff was represented by counsel.
decision dated February 9, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Act.
October 25, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. In the present action,
Plaintiff challenges that decision.
was born in 1963 and was 52 years old at the time of the
ALJ's decision. She graduated from high school and
appears to have completed between a semester and one year of
college. Tr. 67, 244. She has no past relevant work.
engages in a five-step sequential inquiry to determine
whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Below is a summary
of the five steps, which also are described in Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir.
Commissioner determines whether the claimant is engaged in
substantial gainful activity (SGA). A claimant engaged in
such activity is not disabled. If the claimant is not engaged
in substantial gainful activity, the Commissioner proceeds to
evaluate the claimant's case under Step Two. 20 C.F.R.
Commissioner determines whether the claimant has one or more
severe impairments. A claimant who does not have such an
impairment is not disabled. If the claimant has a severe
impairment, the Commissioner proceeds to evaluate the
claimant's case under Step Three. 20 C.F.R. §
cannot be based solely on a severe impairment; therefore, the
Commissioner next determines whether the claimant's
impairment “meets or equals” one of the
presumptively disabling impairments listed in the Social
Security Administration (SSA) regulations, 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. A claimant who has such an
impairment is disabled. If the claimant's impairment does
not meet or equal an impairment listed in the regulations,
the Commissioner's evaluation of the claimant's case
proceeds under Step Four. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d).
Commissioner determines whether the claimant is able to
perform relevant work he or she has done in the past. A
claimant who can perform past relevant work is not disabled.
If the claimant demonstrates he or she cannot do work
performed in the past, the Commissioner's evaluation of
the claimant's case proceeds under Step Five. 20 C.F.R.
Commissioner determines whether the claimant is able to do
any other work. A claimant who cannot perform other work is
disabled. If the Commissioner finds that the claimant is able
to do other work, the Commissioner must show that a
significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that
the claimant can do. The Commissioner may satisfy this burden
through the testimony of a vocational expert (VE) or by
reference to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2. If the Commissioner
demonstrates that a significant number of jobs exist in the
national economy that the claimant can do, the claimant is
not disabled. If the Commissioner does not meet this burden,
the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)(1).
Steps One through Four, the burden of proof is on the
claimant. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098. At Step Five,
the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the
claimant can perform jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy. Id.
preliminary matter, the ALJ found that Plaintiff last met the
insured status requirements on September 30, 1998 ...