United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Mustafa T. Kasubhai United States Magistrate Judge
Jeffery D. (“Plaintiff') brings this action for
judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's
(“Commissioner's”) decision denying his
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 discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
applied for SSI on September 6, 2014 alleging disability
beginning November 1, 2012. Tr. 13. His claim was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Id. Plaintiff
timely requested a hearing before an ALJ and appeared before
the Honorable Katherine Weatherly on April 25, 2017. Tr.
29-50. ALJ Weatherly denied Plaintiff's application in a
written decision dated July 24, 2017. Tr. 13-23. Plaintiff
sought review from the Appeals Council, which was denied,
rendering the ALJ's decision final. Tr. 1-6. 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 utilizes a five-step
sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is
disabled. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. The initial
burden of proof rests upon the claimant to meet the first
four steps. Id. If the claimant satisfies her 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. § 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.
At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
Tr. 15. At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: morbid obesity; diabetes
mellitus Type II; obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); depressive
disorder versus bipolar I disorder; anxiety disorder;
psychotic disorder not otherwise specified; history of
cannabis abuse; degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and
thoracic spine; and gastroesophageal reflux disease status
post gastrointestinal bleed. Id.
three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or equaled the
requirements of a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. Tr. 16. Prior to step four, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's RFC allowed him to perform
work with the following limitations:
[he can] lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently; he can stand and/or walk for two hours out
of an eight-hour workday with regular breaks; he can sit for
six hours out of an eight-hour workday with regular breaks;
[he can perform] frequent climbing of ramps and stairs and
occasional climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolding. The
claimant is able to understand, remember and carry out simple
routine repetitive tasks with no more than occasional contact
with the general public.
Tr. 17. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable
to perform his past relevant work as a landscape laborer. Tr.
21. At step five the ALJ found that, based on Plaintiff's
age, education, work experience and RFC, Plaintiff could
perform the representative occupations of bench assembler,
electrical accessories assembler, and printed circuit layout
paper. Tr. 22-23. As a result, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr.
contends that the ALJ erred by: (I) erroneously discounting
Plaintiff's subjective symptom testimony; (II) rejecting
the medical opinion of Collin Lynn, M.D.; (III) improperly
evaluating his obesity; and (IV) reopening his prior