United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
A. Russo United States Magistrate Judge.
Kourtney L. seeks judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying her applications for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). For the reasons set forth below, the decision of
the Commissioner is REVERSED and REMANDED for further
July 1980, plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on March 12,
2015, alleging disability beginning February 20,
2005. Tr. 15, 32, 326. Plaintiff later
agreed to amend the alleged onset date to September 1, 2009.
Tr. 15. Plaintiff alleged disability due to fibromyalgia,
posttraumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), chronic
abdominal pain, anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder,
severe migraines, pituitary adenoma, gastrointestinal
disorder, and asthma. Id. Plaintiff completed the
twelfth grade and has past work experience as a restaurant
server and as a bartender. Tr. 327.
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Tr. 174-83. She requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) and appeared before ALJ Vadim
Mozyrsky on March 9, 2017. Tr. 46-77. The ALJ issued a
decision finding plaintiff not disabled on August 1, 2017.
Tr. 12-42. The Appeals Council denied review on July 11,
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,
416.920. At step one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since September 1, 2009, the
alleged onset date. Tr. 18. The ALJ also found plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31,
2010. Id. At step two, the ALJ determined the
following impairments were medically determinable and severe:
“anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), somatic disorder, substance addiction
disorder, gastro-intestinal disorder, endometriosis, migraine
headaches, fibromyalgia syndrome, and asthma”
Id. At step three, the ALJ determined
plaintiff's impairments, neither individually nor in
combination, met or equaled the requirements of a listed
impairment. Tr. 19.
the ALJ did not establish presumptive disability at step
three, the ALJ continued to evaluate how plaintiffs
impairments affected her ability to work. The ALJ resolved
plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work with the following
[Plaintiff can] lift and carry twenty pound occasionally and
ten pounds frequently; push and pull the same amount as lift
and carry; stand and walk six hours total of eight; sit six
hours of eight; occasionally climb ladders and scaffolds;
occasionally crawl; no concentrated exposure to hazards (such
as unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts); no
operation of a motor vehicle at the workplace; no
concentrated exposure to airborne irritants (such as fumes,
dust, odors, and gases); limited to simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks and simple work-related decisions; and
occasionally interact with coworkers and the public.
four, the ALJ determined plaintiff could not perform any of
her past relevant work. Tr. 31. At step five, the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff was capable of performing jobs in
the national economy including silver wrapper,
collator/operator, and addressing clerk. Tr. 32-33. The ALJ
therefore concluded that plaintiff was not disabled from
September 1, 2009 through the decision date. Tr. 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 ...