United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNANDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382(c)(3)). Because the Commissioner's decision
is free of legal error and supported by substantial evidence
in the record, the Court AFFIRMS the decision and DISMISSES
was born on August 20, 1954 and was fifty-seven years old on
August 1, 2012, the alleged disability onset date. Tr. 19,
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act (“SSA” or “Act”) through
December 31, 2013. Tr. 19. Plaintiff has at least a high
school education and is unable to perform any past relevant
work. Tr. 28. Plaintiff claims he is disabled based on
conditions including depression, Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and
blindness in one eye. Tr. 194.
benefits application was denied initially on July 22, 2013,
and upon reconsideration on December 11, 2013. Tr. 19. A
hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge John
Michaelsen on September 28, 2015. Tr. 34-56. ALJ Michaelsen
issued a written decision on October 8, 2015, finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled and therefore not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 19-29. The Appeals Council declined review,
rendering ALJ Michaelsen's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-6.
claimant is disabled if he is 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. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant
bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
one, 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). At step two, the Commissioner determines whether
the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments.” Yuckert, 482 U.S.
at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If
not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether claimant's
impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal
“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.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) 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. At 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 its 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. §§
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged disability
onset date. Tr. 21.
two, the ALJ determined that, through the date last insured,
Plaintiff “had the following severe impairments: loss
of vision in the right eye; a history of chronic,
intermittent diarrhea; history of major depressive disorder
and PTSD; status post fracture with rule out of carpal tunnel
syndrome in the left upper extremity.” Tr.
21-22. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's
history of kidney stones and renal colic were not severe. Tr.
three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have any
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments. Tr. 22. In particular, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's conditions did not meet the requirements of
Listing 1.02, 2.02, 12.04, or 12.06. Tr. 22-24.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work