United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
THOMAS J. C., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Mustafa T. Kasubhai, United States Magistrate Judge.
Thomas J. C. brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner of Social Security's
(“Commissioner's”) decision denying her
application for Disability Insurance Benefits under the
Social Security Act (the “Act”). This Court has
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c).
Both parties consent to jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate
reasons discussed below, the Court remands for the immediate
calculation and award of benefits.
protectively filed an application for Disability Insurance
Benefits on July 28, 2014, alleging disability beginning
November 14, 2012. Tr. 147, 162. His claims were initially
denied and Plaintiff timely requested and appeared for a
hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Mark Triplett on November 30, 2016. Tr. 34. The ALJ
denied Plaintiff's application in a written decision
dated January 6, 2017. See Tr. 18-27. Plaintiff
sought review from the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council
denied review of the ALJ's decision, rendering the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Tr. 1-3. Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the decision.
reviewing court shall affirm the Commissioner's decision
if the decision is based on proper legal standards and the
legal findings are supported by substantial evidence in the
record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004).
“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.'” Hill v. Astrue,
698 F.3d 1153, 1159 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sandgathe v.
Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997)). To determine
whether substantial evidence exists, a court reviews the
administrative record as a whole, “weighing both the
evidence that supports and detracts from the ALJ's
conclusion.” Davis v. Heckler, 868 F.2d 323,
326 (9th Cir. 1989).
Social Security Administration utilizes a five-step
sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is
disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
416.920. The initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant
to meet the first four steps. Id. If the claimant
satisfies his burden with respect to the first four steps,
the burden shifts to the commissioner at step five.
Id.; see also Johnson v. Shalala, 60 F.3d
1428, 1432 (9th Cir. 1995). At step five, the Commissioner
must show that the claimant is capable of making an
adjustment to other work after considering the claimant's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”), age,
education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(v) & 416.920(a)(4)(v). If the Commissioner
fails to meet this burden, then the claimant is disabled.
Id. 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. Id.; see also Bustamante v.
Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir. 2001).
present case, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled.
Tr. 894. At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged
onset date of November 14, 2012. Tr. 20. At step two, the ALJ
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
“degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine,
peripheral neuropathy, and obesity.” Id. At
step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
the requirements of a listed impairment in 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“Listings”). Tr. 20-21.
to step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) that allowed
him to perform light work. Specifically, Plaintiff
“could lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently, stand and walk for six hours in an
eight-hour day, and sit for six hours in an eight-hour
day.” Tr. 21. However, Plaintiff “could never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and had to avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme cold.” Id.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform past
relevant work. Tr. 25. At step five, the ALJ found that there
are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff can perform based on his age,
education, work experience, and RFC, such as office helper,
telephone survey worker, and outside deliverer. Tr. 26-27.
seeks review by this Court contending that the ALJ erred in
(1) improperly discounting treating doctors' opinions,
(2) improperly rejecting Plaintiff's subjective
complaints, and (3) improperly omitting functional
limitations of Plaintiff in posing the hypotheticals,
rendering the Vocational Expert's opinions incomplete and
invalid. Pl.'s Br. 10-17 (ECF No. 12).