United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. McSHANE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brenda G. brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner of Social Security's
(“Commissioner”) decision denying her application
for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under
Title 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 is affirmed.
was 31 years old on her alleged onset date of May 15, 2008.
Tr. 136, 346. She completed her GED and some medical
assistance training and has past work experience building
crates and cleaning glass. Tr. 346-47. She alleged disability
due to cervical lumbar back disorder, bipolar disorder,
anxiety, sleep disorder, Graves disease, hypothyroidism, OCD,
depression, and PTSD. Tr. 345.
filed her application for SSI on May 28, 2015. Tr. 211. Her
claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 262,
269. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) and appeared for
a hearing on March 10, 2017. Tr. 168-89. In a written
decision dated June 15, 2017 the ALJ denied Plaintiff's
applications. Tr. 120-24. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's subsequent petition for review, rendering the
ALJ's decision final. Tr. 1-5.
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 utilizes a five-step
sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is
disabled. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4) (2012).
The burden of proof rests upon 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 demonstrate 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. § 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 953-54.
performed the sequential evaluation. At step one, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had not performed substantial gainful
activity since May 28, 2015, the application date. Tr. 126.
At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: musculoskeletal conditions described as lumbar
and cervical degenerative disc disease, left shoulder
fracture/injury status-post surgery, and mental health
conditions variously described as bipolar disorder, PTSD,
anxiety, OCD, and substance addiction disorder. Id.
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 Plaintiff's RFC
allowed her to perform light work with the following
[L]ifting and carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently; sitting up to six hours in an eight-hour day;
standing and walking six hours total in an eight-hour day;
pushing and pulling as much as lifting and carrying, except
pushing and pulling with the left upper extremity would be
limited to the frequent level; the individual would be
limited to reaching in all directions at the frequent level
with the left upper extremity (the non-dominant extremity);
the individual would be limited to handling frequently with
the left upper extremity; climbing ladders and scaffolds
limited to the occasional level; the individual would be
limited to simple routine and repetitive tasks, and simple
work related decisions; interaction with coworkers would be
limited to the occasional level; interaction with the public
would be limited to the superficial level (passing people in
the hallways would be allowed but no direct contact as part
of the day-to-day job duties).
Tr. 128. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was
unable to perform any of her past relevant work. Tr. 135. 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. 136. Specifically, the ALJ found
Plaintiff could perform the occupations of office helper,
hand packager/inspector; and production assembler.
Id. As a result, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 137.
contends the ALJ erred by: (I) failing to properly evaluate
the medical opinion evidence; (II) failing to provide clear
and convincing reasons to reject her subjective symptom
testimony; and (III) failing to properly consider new
evidence submitted after the decision date.