United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Yim You, United States Magistrate Judge
E. (“plaintiff”), seeks judicial review of the
final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying plaintiff's
application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under the Social Security Act
(“Act”). This court has jurisdiction to review
the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Because the
Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, it is REVERSED and REMANDED for further
1972, plaintiff was 40 years old on the alleged onset date.
Tr. 82. Plaintiff has past relevant work as a receptionist,
medical records clerk, and administrative clerk. Tr. 25.
has been diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnolence, obesity,
sleep apnea, asthma respiratory distress syndrome,
depression, type II diabetes, dysthymic disorder,
hyperlipidemia, hypothyroidism, anxiety, panic disorder, and
adjustment disorder. Tr. 347, 416, 448, 453-54, 647-48, 667.
quit her most recent job because she had exhausted her sick
time but was still sick. She was afraid she was going to get
fired, which would negatively affect her ability to find
another job. Tr. 52, 159. Plaintiff claims to have a weak
immune system, causing her to get sick more often and causing
her symptoms to last longer. Tr. 42.
filed an application for DIB on September 4, 2014, alleging
disability beginning December 18, 2012. Tr. 13.
Plaintiff's claim was initially denied on January 27,
2015, and upon reconsideration on May 1, 2015. Id. A
hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on March 8, 2017, in which the plaintiff
testified, as did a vocational expert (“VE”). Tr.
36-66. On May 10, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr.
13-27. After the Appeals Council denied her request for
review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this court. Tr. 1-6.
The ALJ's decision is therefore the Commissioner's
final decision subject to review by this court. 20 C.F.R.
reviewing court must affirm the Commissioner's decision
if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Lewis v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 909, 911
(9th Cir. 2007). This court must weigh the evidence that
supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion and
“‘may not affirm simply by isolating a specific
quantum of supporting evidence.'” Garrison v.
Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th
Cir. 2007)). The reviewing court may not substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner when the evidence can
reasonably support either affirming or reversing the
decision. Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th
Cir. 2007). Instead, where the evidence is susceptible to
more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's
decision must be upheld if it is “supported by
inferences reasonably drawn from the record.”
Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir.
2008) (citation omitted); see also
Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035.
ANALYSIS AND ALJ FINDINGS
is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
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). The ALJ engages in a five-step sequential
inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled within
the meaning of the Act. This sequential analysis is set forth
in the Social Security regulations, 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920, in Ninth Circuit case law, Lounsburry
v. Barnhart, 468 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2006)
(discussing Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99
(9th Cir. 1999)), and in the ALJ's decision in this case,
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity after December 18, 2012, the alleged onset
date. Tr. 15.
two, the ALJ found plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: obstructive sleep apnea, idiopathic hypersomnia,
type II diabetes, obesity, asthma, major depressive disorder,
and anxiety. Id.
three, the ALJ found plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a
listed impairment. Tr. 16. The ALJ next assessed
plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) and determined that she could perform a
reduced range of light work and that:
She could lift, carry, push, and pull 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds frequently. She could stand or walk for 2 hours
in an 8-hour workday, and she could sit for about 6 hours in
an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks. She could never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She could have no exposure to
moving mechanical parts or unprotected height hazards. She
could understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine and
repetitive instructions that can be learned in 30 days or
less. She could have occasional public contact, but could not
work directly with the public. She could have occasional
direct coworker interaction, but could not engage in group
tasks. She could have occasional supervisor contact. She was
further limited to low stress work, which is defined as
requiring only occasional changes in work setting and work
duties and no conveyor belt paced work. She could have no
exposure to atmospheric conditions.
four, the ALJ found plaintiff was unable to perform her past
relevant work as a receptionist, medical records clerk, or
administrative clerk. Tr. 25.
five, the ALJ found plaintiff could perform jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy, including
cutter-and-paster, addresser, and laminator I. Tr. 26.
argues that the ALJ erred by failing to meet her burden at
step five and improperly rejecting plaintiff's subjective
Step Five Finding
the claimant has the burden of proof with regard to steps one
through four of the sequential analysis, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner at step five. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The
Commissioner must show that the claimant is capable of making
an adjustment to other work after considering the
claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience.
Id. If the Commissioner fails to meet this burden,
then the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(v). Plaintiff argues that the ALJ improperly
concluded that she could perform the jobs of laminator I,
cutter-and-paster, and addresser.
Dictionary of Occupational Titles
(“DOT”) defines the job ...