United States District Court, D. Oregon
Christopher (Kit) Morgan Legal Aid Services of Oregon
Attorney for Plaintiff
J. Williams, U.S. Attorney Renata Gowie, Asst. U.S. Attorney
OR Kathryn Ann Miller Special Asst. U.S. Attorney Office of
the General Counsel Social Security Administration Attorneys
OPINION AND ORDER
Jelderks U.S. Magistrate Judge
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) seeking
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (the Commissioner) denying her application
for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under the Social
Security Act (the Act). Plaintiff requests that the Court
reverse the Commissioner's decision and remand this
action to the Social Security Administration (the Agency).
reasons set out below, the Commissioner's decision is
reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
protectively filed an application for SSI benefits on March
19, 2013, alleging she had been disabled since March 1, 2009.
After her claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested an administrative
February 2, 2016, a video hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) M.J. Adams. Plaintiff and
Kimberly Mullinax, an impartial vocational expert (VE),
testified at the hearing. Plaintiff was represented by
counsel. At the hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged onset
date to March 19, 2013.
decision dated March 18, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Act.
September 11, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. In the
present action, Plaintiff challenges that decision.
was born in 1975 and was 40 years old at the time of the
ALJ's decision. She obtained a GED. Although Plaintiff
has past work experience as a cashier, the ALJ determined
that her earnings during the relevant time period did not
reach the level of substantial gainful activity and,
therefore, Plaintiff had no past relevant work. Tr. 40, 186.
engages in a five-step sequential inquiry to determine
whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Below is a summary
of the five steps, which also are described in Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir.
Commissioner determines whether the claimant is engaged in
substantial gainful activity (SGA). A claimant engaged in
such activity is not disabled. If the claimant is not engaged
in substantial gainful activity, the Commissioner proceeds to
evaluate the claimant's case under Step Two. 20 C.F.R.