United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division
OPINION & ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge.
("Plaintiff) brings this action pursuant to the Social
Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to
obtain judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner").
The Commissioner denied Plaintiffs application for Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on February 24, 2017.
For the reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the
applied for DIB on April 13, 2014. Following denials at the
initial and reconsideration levels, an administrative law
judge ("ALJ") held a hearing and issued an
unfavorable decision. After the Appeals Council denied her
request for review, Plaintiff filed a timely complaint in
this Court seeking review of the ALJ's decision.
U.S.C. § 405(g) provides for judicial review of the
Social Security Administration's disability
determinations: "The court shall have power to enter . .
. a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without
remanding the cause for a rehearing." In reviewing the
ALJ's findings, district courts act in an appellate
capacity not as the trier of fact. Fair v. Bowen,
885 F.2d 597, 604 (9th Cir. 1989). The district court must
affirm the ALJ's decision unless it contains legal error
or lacks substantial evidentiary support. Garrison v.
Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing
Stout v. Comm'r of Soc, Sec, 454 F.3d 1050, 1052
(9th Cir. 2006)). Harmless legal errors are not grounds for
reversal, Burch v. Bamhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th
Cir. 2005). "Substantial evidence is more than a mere
scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion." Gutierrez v. Comm'r of
Soc, Sec, 140 F.3d 519, 522 (9th Cir, 2014) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted). The complete record
must be evaluated and the evidence that supports and detracts
from the ALJ's conclusion must be weighed. Mayes v.
Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001). If the
evidence is subject to more than one interpretation but the
Commissioner's decision is rational, the Commissioner
must be affirmed, because "the court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner," Edlund
v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
initial burden of proof rests upon a claimant to establish
disability. Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1486
(9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, a claimant must
demonstrate an "inability to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinate
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).
determine whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is required
to employ a five-step sequential analysis, determining:
"(1) whether the claimant is 'doing substantial
gainful activity'; (2) whether the claimant has a
'severe medically determinable physical or mental
impairment' or combination of impairments that has lasted
for more than 12 months; (3) whether the impairment
'meets or equals' one of the listings in the
regulations; (4) whether, given the claimant's
'residual functional capacity,' the claimant can
still do his or her 'past relevant work' and (5)
whether the claimant 'can make an adjustment to other
work.'" Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104,
1110 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting 20 C.F.R. §§
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date. At
step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following
severe limitations: "amblyopia and blepharitis (20 CFR
404.1520(c)) ." Tr. 17. At step three, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the requirements of
a listed impairment.
then assessed Plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.P.R. § 404.1520(e); §
416.920(e). The ALJ found that Plaintiff
has the [RFC] to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels but with the following nonexertional
limitations: he is limited to no climbing of ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds; he must avoid even moderate exposure to hazards
(i.e., dangerous machinery, unprotected heights); he is
limited to no exposure to more than moderate light, typical
office-type light and indoor job only, air conditioned, clear
air environment; and he is limited to no exposure to dust
particles, particulates, fumes, and wind.
Tr. 18. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable
of performing past relevant work as a field hauler, tank
truck driver, and security guard. At step five the ALJ found
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff was capable of performing,
specifically identifying the representative occupations of
cashier II, storage facility rental clerk, furniture rental
consultant, and ...