United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
E. Haapala Attorney for Plaintiff
J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY District of Oregon Renata
Gowie ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
J. Langkamer SPECIAL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Office
of the General Counsel Social Security Administration
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNANDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kellie Ann B. brings this action seeking judicial review of
the Commissioner's final decision to deny supplemental
security income (SSI). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3)). I affirm the Commissioner's decision.
applied for SSI on September 22, 2014, alleging an onset date
of November 1, 2013. Tr. 151-59. Her application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 62-75, 91-94 (Initial);
Tr. 75-90, 98-100 (Recon.). On April 4, 2017, Plaintiff
appeared, with counsel, for a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Tr. 27-58. On June 28, 2017,
the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 10-26. The Appeals
Council denied review. Tr. 1-6.
alleges disability based on having ulcerative colitis, a
fractured back, seizures, migraines, chronic pain, and one
kidney. Tr. 168. At the time of the hearing, she was fifty
years old. Tr. 151 (showing date of birth). She has a GED and
has past relevant work experience as a fast food worker and a
telemarketer. Tr. 21, 169.
claimant is disabled if he or she 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), 1382c(a)(3)(A).
claims are evaluated according to a five-step procedure.
See Valentine v. Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th
Cir. 2009) (in social security cases, agency uses five-step
procedure to determine disability). The claimant bears the
ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
first step, 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). In 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 plaintiff'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 perform past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled.
If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner. In 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 his 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 determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her application date. Tr.
15. Next, at steps two and three, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff has severe impairments of degenerative disc
disease, migraines, and right knee patellar chondromalacia,
but that the impairments did not meet or equal, either singly
or in combination, a listed impairment. Tr. 15-17.
four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(c), with
the following limitations: (1) she can occasionally balance,
stoop, crouch, kneel, crawl, and climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds; (2) she can frequently climb ramps and stairs and
use foot pedals with her lower extremities; (3) she should
avoid hazards such as machinery and unprotected heights; and
(4) she can understand, remember, and carry out only short
and simple instructions. Tr. 17. With this RFC, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff is able to ...