United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
A. Russo United States Magistrate Judge.
Kirk L. seeks judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social
Security Act (“the Act”). For the reasons set
forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
December 1970, plaintiff applied for DIB on January 19, 2015,
alleging disability beginning December 29, 2014. Tr. 66, 78.
Plaintiff alleged disability due to general convulsive
epilepsy and malignant neoplasm of the brain. Id.
Plaintiff completed high school and has past work experience
as an auto detailer, lot attendant, and watch guard/cook. Tr.
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Tr. 77, 91. An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
held a hearing on June 27, 2017 and issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled on September 19, 2017. Tr. 20-33,
39-65. The Appeals Council denied review on June 29, 2018,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. Tr. 1-6. This appeal followed.
performed the five step sequential analysis, for determining
whether a person is disabled. See Bowen v. Yuckert,
482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since December 29, 2014, and he met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2018. Tr. 22-23. At step two, the ALJ determined the
following impairments were medically determinable and severe:
“history of left frontal grade II oligodendroglioma
status post surgery with no recurrence of cancer, history of
seizures status post controlled with medications, history of
partial seizures affecting the hands status post controlled
with medications, history of migraines, and obesity.”
Tr. 23. At step three, the ALJ determined plaintiff's
impairments, neither individually nor in combination, met or
equaled the requirements of a listed impairment. Id.
the ALJ did not establish presumptive disability at step
three, the ALJ continued to evaluate how plaintiff's
impairments affected his ability to work. The ALJ resolved
plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with the
[Plaintiff] can lift, carry, push, and/or pull ten pounds
occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently. He can
stand and/or walk two hours out of an eight-hour workday and
sit six or more hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant
can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but never climb
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. He can have no exposure
whatsoever to hazards, such as dangerous machinery and
four, the ALJ determined plaintiff could not perform any of
his past relevant work. Tr. 31. At step five, the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff was capable of performing jobs in
the national economy including document preparer,
telemarketer, and appointment clerk. Tr. 32. The ALJ
therefore concluded that plaintiff was not disabled from
December 29, 2014 through the decision date. Tr. 32-33.
district court must 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, 359
F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). Substantial evidence
“means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(internal citation omitted). In reviewing the
Commissioner's alleged errors, a court must weigh
“both the evidence that supports and detracts from the
[Commissioner's] conclusion.” Martinez v.
Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). Variable
interpretations of the evidence are insignificant if the
Commissioner's interpretation is rational. Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).
the evidence before the ALJ is subject to more than one
rational interpretation, a court must defer to the ALJ's
conclusion. Batson, 359 F.3d at 1198 (internal
citation omitted). The reviewing court, however, cannot
affirm the Commissioner's decision on grounds the agency
did not invoke in making its decision. Stout v.
Comm'r,454 F.3d 1050, 1054 (9th Cir. 2006).
Finally, the court may not reverse an ALJ's decision on
account of an error that is harmless. Id. at
1055-56. “[T]he burden of showing that an ...