United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
V. ACOSTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
("plaintiff) seeks judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("Commissioner") denying his applications for Title
II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Title
XVI Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under the
Social Security Act ("Act"). This Court has
jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Based on a
careful review of the record, the Commissioner's decision
should be REVERSED and REMANDED for the immediate calculation
and payment of benefits.
applied for DIB and SSI on November 12, 2013, alleging
disability as of January 1, 1971, due to back and leg pain,
being a "slow learner, problems understanding," and
"sharp pains in [his] chest." (Tr. 16, 224, 249.)
His applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 115-18.) Plaintiff requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), and a
hearing was held on June 1, 2016. (Tr. 36-93.) ALJ Steven A.
De Monbreum issued a decision finding plaintiffnot disabled
on July 29, 2016. (Tr. 13-30.) The Appeals Council denied
plaintiffs request for review on September 11, 2017, making
the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6.) This appeal followed.
1963, plaintiff was seven years old on the alleged onset
date, and fifty-two years old at the time of the hearing.
(Tr. 28.) He dropped out of high school in the eleventh
grade. (Tr. 43.) Plaintiff previously worked as a forest
firefighter and dishwasher. (Tr. 28.)
court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is
based on proper legal standards and supported by substantial
evidence in the record. Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d
498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence is "more
than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v.
N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court must
weigh "both the evidence that supports and detracts from
the [Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v.
Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). "Where
the evidence as a whole can support either a grant or a
denial, [a court] may not substitute [its] judgment for the
ALJ's." Massachi v. Astrue, 486 F.3d 1149,
1152 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, the claimant must
demonstrate an "inability to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected ... to
last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process
for determining whether a person is disabled. Bowenv.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140(1987);20C.F.R.
§§404.1520, 416.920. At step one, the Commissioner
determines whether the claimant is engaged in
"substantial gainful activity" ("SGA").
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 140; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If so, he is not disabled.
two, the Commissioner evaluates 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 the claimant
does not have a severe impairment, he is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's
impairments, either individually 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, he is presumptively disabled; if not, the Commissioner
proceeds to step four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant can
still perform "past relevant work." 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f). If the claimant can
perform past relevant work, he is not disabled; if he cannot,
the burden shifts to the Commissioner.
five, the Commissioner must establish the claimant can
perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national or local economy. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at
141-42; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g). If
the Commissioner meets this ...