United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL McSHANE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jeanmarie W. brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner of Social Security's
(“Commissioner”) decision 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”). This court has
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c).
For the reasons below, the Commissioner's final decision
July 1977, Plaintiff was 36 years old on her alleged onset
date of January 30, 2014. Tr. 301, 306. She completed one
year of college as well as a medical assisting course for the
state of California, and a real estate course. Tr.
306. Plaintiff has past work experience as a bank
teller, cashier, business operations specialist, correctional
officer, and realtor. Tr. 307. She alleged disability due to
Dercum's disease, chronic migraines, fibromyalgia,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine,
osteoarthritis, myalgia and myositis, depressive disorder,
ankle pain, and chronic pain. Tr. 305.
filed her applications for SSI and DIB on April 9, 2014. Tr.
54, 277-89. Both claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Tr. 183-87. Plaintiff timely requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) and appeared for a hearing on April 10,
2017. Tr. 77-106. In a written decision dated June 8, 2017
the ALJ denied Plaintiff's applications. Tr. 54-70. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's subsequent petition
for review, rendering the ALJ's decision final. Tr. 3-8.
Plaintiff now seeks judicial review.
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 that which detracts from the ALJ's
conclusion. Davis v. Heckler, 868 F.2d 323, 326 (9th
Social Security Administration uses a five-step sequential
evaluation to determine whether a claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4),
416.920(a)(4) (2012). The burden of proof fall to the
claimant at steps one through four, and with the Commissioner
at step five. Id; Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d
949, 953-54 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999)). At step
five, the Commissioner must show that the claimant can make
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 can perform other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, the claimant is
not disabled. Id; see also Bustamante, 262 F.3d at
performed the sequential evaluation. At step one, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had not performed substantial gainful
activity since January 30, 2014, her alleged onset date. Tr.
56. At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: bilateral ankle osteoarthritis,
multilevel cervical degenerative disc disease, mild lumbar
degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, obesity, major
depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and
posttraumatic stress disorder. Tr. 57. At step three, the ALJ
found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or equaled the requirements of the
listings. Tr. 27; 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
to step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiffs RFC allowed
for light work with these limitations:
[Plaintiff] is able to perform pushing, pulling, lifting
and/or carrying of twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds
or less frequently. She is able to sit for six hours in an
eight-hour workday with normal breaks. She is able to stand
and/or walk for up to six hours each total in an eight-hour
workday with normal breaks. She is able to perform occasional
reaching overhead bilaterally. She is able to climb ramps and
stairs occasionally, but she should avoid climb[ing] ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds. She is able to perform work limited to
occasional stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. She
is able to perform work limited to simple, routine tasks and
making simple work-related decisions. She is able to perform
work limited to no more than occasional exposure to working
in the vicinity of supervisors, co-workers, and the public.
She is able to perform work limited to simple, work-related
decisions. The claimant's time off can be accommodated by
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could not perform any of
her past relevant work. Tr. 68. At step five, the ALJ found
that based on Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in
the national economy such that Plaintiff could sustain
substantial gainful employment despite her impairments. Tr.
69. Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff could perform the
representative occupations of small products assembler,
laboratory sample carrier, and garment folder. Id.
As a result, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not
disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 70.
contends the ALJ erred by: (I) improperly evaluating the
medical evidence; (II) failing to provide clear and
convincing reasons to reject her subjective symptom
testimony; (III) failing to find her migraines and
Dercum's disease to be severe at step two; and (IV)
erroneously concluding ...