United States District Court, D. Oregon
M. Rebers Robyn M. Rebers, LLC Wilsonville, Attorney for
Gowie Assistant United States Attorney District of Oregon
Courtney Garcia Social Security Administration Office of the
General Counsel Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION & ORDER
Hernandez, United States District Judge
L. Gattuccio (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review
of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying
his application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(the “Act”). The Commissioner's decision is
filed an application for DIB on October 2, 2014, alleging
disability beginning on June 6, 2013. Tr. 19, 175. The
Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application initially and
upon reconsideration. Tr. 99, 114. Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Tr. 127. In a decision dated July 6,
2017, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 19-35. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. Tr. 1; see also 20 C.F.R. §
422.210(a). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of that decision.
This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
was born in December 1965 and was 47 years old on the alleged
disability onset date. Tr. 34, 175. He alleges disability due
to short-term memory loss, anoxic encephalopathy, PTSD,
anxiety disorder and neck and back pain with tingling and
numbness in arms and hands. Tr. 195. He has a high school
education and has past work experience on a bridge crew, as a
facilities manager, and as a facility supervisor. Tr. 196.
claimant is disabled if 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). “Social Security Regulations set out a
five-step sequential process for determining whether an
applicant is disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act.” Keyser v. Comm 'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011); see
also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 (DIB); Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). Each step is
potentially dispositive. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). The five-step sequential
process asks the following series of questions:
1. Is the claimant performing “substantial gainful
activity?” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). This
activity is work involving significant mental or physical
duties done or intended to be done for pay or profit. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1510. If the claimant is performing such
work, she is not disabled within the meaning of the Act. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). If the claimant is not
performing substantial gainful activity, the analysis
proceeds to step two.
2. Is the claimant's impairment “severe”
under the Commissioner's regulations? 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(ii). An impairment or combination of
impairments is “severe” if it significantly
limits the claimant's physical or mental ability to do
basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521(a). Unless
expected to result in death, this impairment must have lasted
or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12
months. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1509. If the claimant does not
have a severe impairment, the analysis ends. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant has a severe impairment,
the analysis proceeds to step three.
3. Does the claimant's severe impairment “meet or
equal” one or more of the impairments listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, then the
claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii).
If the impairment does not meet or equal one or more of the
listed impairments, the analysis continues. At that point,
the ALJ must evaluate medical and other relevant evidence to
assess and determine the claimant's “residual
functional capacity” (“RFC”). This is an
assessment of work-related activities that the claimant may
still perform on a regular and continuing basis, despite any
limitations imposed by his or her impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 404.1545(b)-(c). After the ALJ
determines the claimant's RFC, the analysis proceeds to
4. Can the claimant perform his or her “past relevant
work” with this RFC assessment? If so, then the
claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant cannot perform his or her
past relevant work, the analysis proceeds to step five.
5. Considering the claimant's RFC and age, education, and
work experience, is the claimant able to make an adjustment
to other work that exists in significant numbers in the
national economy? If so, then the claimant is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 404.1560(c). If the
claimant cannot perform such work, he or she is disabled.
Id. See also Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949,
954 (9th Cir. 2001).
claimant bears the burden of proof at steps one through four.
Id. at 953; see also Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999); Yuckert, 482 U.S.
at 140-41. The Commissioner bears the burden of proof at step
five. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1100. At step five, the
Commissioner must show that the claimant can perform other
work that exists in significant numbers in the national
economy, “taking into consideration the claimant's
residual functional capacity, age, education, and work
experience.” Id; see also 20 C.F.R. §
404.1566 (describing “work which exists in the national
economy”). If the Commissioner fails to meet this
burden, the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(v). If, however, the Commissioner proves that
the claimant is able to perform other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, the claimant is
not disabled. Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953-54;
Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1099.