United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
H. ("Plaintiff) seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration ("Commissioner") denying Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social
Security Act ("the Act") and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act. For the reasons set
forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and
this case is REMANDED for further proceedings.
filed an application for DIB on August 31, 2015, and an
application for SSI on November 13, 2015. Tr. 14. Plaintiff
alleges a disability onset date of August 31, 2015, for both
claims. Id. An administrative hearing was held on
February 3, 2017, before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Tr. 33. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing.
Id. Plaintiff, Plaintiffs grandmother, and a
vocational expert testified at the hearing. Tr. 25, 34. The
ALJ then issued an opinion finding that Plaintiff was not
disabled. Tr. 27. Plaintiff timely requested review by the
Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiffs request for review
on December 15, 2017. Tr. 1. The Appeals Council's denial
made the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff was not
disabled the final decision of the Commissioner. Id.
Plaintiff then timely filed this action challenging the
The ALJ's Findings
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.
first step of the five-step sequential evaluation process,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since her alleged onset date. Tr. 16.
second step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: depression, anxiety, neurocognitive
disorder, somatoform disorder, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
third step, the ALJ found that none of Plaintiff s
impairments was the equivalent of any of the impairments
enumerated in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. Tr. 21.
The ALJ therefore conducted an assessment of Plaintiff s
residual functional capacity (RFC). Specifically, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform:
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
except no exposure to extreme heat, or hazards, such as
moving mechanical parts, or unprotected heights or operating
a motor vehicle; no job with reasoning level above two;
limited to perform simple and routine tasks; limited to
simple work related decisions; and limited to occasional
interaction with the public; and only frequent bilateral
handling, fingering and feeling.
Tr. 18. In reaching this finding, the ALJ considered
Plaintiffs symptoms and the extent to which those symptoms
could reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective
medical evidence and other evidence. Tr. 19-26. The ALJ also
considered opinion evidence. Id.
fourth step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not able to
perform her past relevant work as either a customer service
call center worker or as a teller. Tr. 26.
Plaintiffs age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ
determined at fifth step that there were jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national and local economy that
Plaintiff could perform. Tr. 26-27. These jobs included