United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act and Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social
Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) (incorporated by 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c)(3)).
Because the Commissioner's decision is free of legal
error and supported by substantial evidence in the record,
the Court AFFIRMS the decision and DISMISSES this case.
was born on December 18, 1968 and was forty-four years old on
August 9, 2013, the alleged disability onset date. Tr. 23,
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act (“SSA” or “Act”) through
December 31, 2013. Tr. 23. Plaintiff has a limited education
and is unable to perform any past relevant work. Tr. 34.
Plaintiff claims he is disabled based on conditions including
post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder,
alcohol use disorder in remission, status-post fracture right
posterior acetabulum, lumbar spine degenerative disc disease
and L5-S1 spondylosis, cervical spine degenerative disc
disease, and deep vein thrombosis. Tr. 24.
benefits application was denied initially on January 28,
2014, and upon reconsideration on July 17, 2014. Tr. 21. A
hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Katherine
Weatherly on June 16, 2016. Tr. 41-70. ALJ Weatherly issued a
written decision on September 15, 2016, finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled and therefore not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 35. The Appeals Council declined review,
rendering ALJ Weatherly's decision the Commissioner's
final decision. Tr. 1-6.
claimant is disabled if she is unable to “engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which . . . has
lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of
not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). Disability claims are evaluated according to a
five-step procedure. Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 689 (9th Cir. 2009). The claimant
bears the ultimate burden of proving disability. Id.
one, the Commissioner determines whether a claimant is
engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” If so,
the claimant is not disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140 (1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b),
416.920(b). At step two, the Commissioner determines whether
the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments.” Yuckert, 482 U.S.
at 140-41; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If
not, the claimant is not disabled.
three, the Commissioner determines whether claimant's
impairments, singly or in combination, meet or equal
“one of a number of listed impairments that the
[Commissioner] acknowledges are so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity.” Yuckert, 482
U.S. at 141; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d).
If so, the claimant is conclusively presumed disabled; if
not, the Commissioner proceeds to step four.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141.
four, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant,
despite any impairment(s), has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform “past relevant
work.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
If the claimant can, the claimant is not disabled. If the
claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the burden shifts
to the Commissioner. At step five, the Commissioner must
establish that the claimant can perform other work.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. at 141-42; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(e) & (f), 416.920(e) & (f). If the
Commissioner meets its burden and proves that the claimant is
able to perform other work which exists in the national
economy, the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged disability
onset date. Tr. 23.
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had “the
following severe impairments: post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD); major depressive disorder; gambling disorder; alcohol
use disorder in remission; rule out borderline intellectual
functioning; status-post fracture right posterior acetabulum;
lumbar spine degenerative disc disease and L5-S1 spondylosis;
cervical spine degenerative disc disease; right leg deep vein
thrombosis; right hip labral tear status-post open reduction
internal fixation (ORIF); and, after expiration of the date
last insured, right lower extremity meralgia
parestetica.” Tr. 24. The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, benign prostatic
hypertrophy, and colon polyps were not severe. Tr. 24.
three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have any
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments. Tr. 24.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (RFC) “to perform light
work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except
he can frequently climb ramps and stairs and only
occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; he can
frequently balance, kneel, and crouch; he can occasionally
stoop and crawl; he must avoid concentrated exposure to
vibration and workplace hazards such as heights and heavy
machinery; he can understand, remember, and carry out ...