United States District Court, D. Oregon
Merrill Schneider Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorney for
Gowie Assistant United States Attorney Joseph J. Langkamer
Social Security Administration Office of the General Counsel
Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Daniel G. brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). This Court
has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (incorporated
by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)). The Commissioner's
decision is reversed and remanded for the further
applied for DIB and SSI on February 4, 2014, alleging
disability as of April 30, 2006. Tr. 13, 168-74,
177-86. Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date
to March 31, 1999, to correspond with his date last insured
(“DLI”) for DIB. Tr. 175. His application was
denied at first and on reconsideration. Tr. 13. On February
10, 2017, Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, for a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Tr.
33-56. On April 10, 2017, the ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled. Tr. 27. The Appeals Council denied review. Tr. 1.
alleged disability because of diabetes, arthritis, back pain,
chronic pain syndrome, multiple joint pain, and “level
conscience decreased.” Tr. 200. He was 34 at the time
of his amended alleged onset date and 52 at the time of the
administrative hearing. Tr. 26. Plaintiff has a limited
education and no past relevant work experience. Id.
claimant is disabled if 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). Disability claims are evaluated according to a
five-step procedure. See, e.g., Valentine v.
Comm'r, 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The
claimant bears the ultimate burden of proving disability.
first step, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is
engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” If so,
the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b),
416.920(b). In step two, the Commissioner determines whether
the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments.” Yuckert, 482 U.S.
137 at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
416.920(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment
meets or equals “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, the claimant is conclusively
presumed disabled; if not, the Commissioner proceeds to step
four. Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity to perform “past relevant work.” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant
can, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot
perform past relevant work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner. In step five, the Commissioner must establish
that the claimant can perform other work. Yuckert,
482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) &
(f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the Commissioner meets his
burden and proves that the claimant can perform other work in
the national economy, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1566, 416.966.
one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity after his amended alleged onset
date of March 31, 1999. Tr. 22. Regarding Plaintiff's DIB
claim, the ALJ found at step two that Plaintiff did not have
a severe impairment or combination of impairments as of the
DLI. Tr. 15-18. Thus, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not
disabled regarding his DIB claim.
Plaintiff's SSI claim, the ALJ determined at steps two
and three that as of February 4, 2014, Plaintiff has the
following severe impairments: “Obesity, degenerative
disc disease, diabetes mellitus, degenerative joint disease
of the knees, right lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathy,
hernia of the abdominal wall, a depressive disorder and an
anxiety disorder.” Tr. 22. Even so, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically
equal the severity of a listed impairment. Tr. 18-20. The ALJ
next determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional
[L]ift, carry, push and pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently. He can sit up to six hours in an
eight-hour workday. He can stand and walk five hours total in
an eight-hour workday. He is limited to occasional climbing
ramps and stairs. He can never climb ladders and scaffolds.
He can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He is
precluded from working at unprotected heights, with heavy
operating machinery, or operating a motor vehicle. He needs
to avoid concentrated exposure to machinery causing
vibrations. He needs to use a cane when traversing rough,
uneven or sloped terrains. He is limited to simple and
detailed tasks and simple and detailed decision-making. He is
limited to routine and repetitive tasks.
Tr. 20. The ALJ found Plaintiff had no past relevant work at
step four. Tr. 26. At step five, the ALJ found that jobs
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff can perform, such as advertising material
distributor, price marker, and silver wrapper. Tr. 26-27.
Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled. Tr.
reviewing court must affirm the Commissioner's decision
if the Commissioner applied proper legal standards and the
findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004).
“Substantial evidence” means “more than a
mere scintilla, but less than preponderance.” Bray
v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d
1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995)). It is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Id.
court must weigh the evidence that supports and detracts from
the ALJ's conclusion. Lingenfelter v. Astrue,
504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998)). The
reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Id. (citing Robbins v. Soc.
Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)); see
also Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir.
2001). Variable interpretations of the evidence are
insignificant if the Commissioner's interpretation is a
rational reading. Id.; see also Batson, 359
F.3d at 1193. Yet the court ...