United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
MUSTAFA T. KASUBHAI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Carla V. (“Plaintiff’) brings this action for
judicial review of the Commissioner of Social
decision denying her applications for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) 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 discussed below, the Commissioner’s
decision is affirmed.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
applied for SSI and DIB on September 1, 2015, alleging
disability beginning June 15, 2015. Tr. 13, 167,
Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Id. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing before an
ALJ and appeared before the Honorable S. Pines on June 12,
2017. Tr. 29-60. ALJ Pines denied Plaintiff’s
application in a written decision dated July 20, 2017. Tr.
13-23. Plaintiff sought review from the Appeals Council,
which was denied, rendering the ALJ’s decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff now seeks
judicial review of the decision.
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 Cir. 1989).
Social Security Administration utilizes a five-step
sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is
disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 &
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. §§ 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 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 severe
impairments of degenerative disc disease, obesity, and
diabetes mellitus. Tr. 15. At step 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.
to step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s RFC
allowed her to perform light work with the following
The claimant can stand and walk for a combined total of less
than 6 hours and can sit for 6 hours. The claimant could
never balance. The claimant can occasionally stoop, kneel,
crouch and crawl. The claimant can occasionally use foot
controls. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs but never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. The
claimant should not have concentrated exposure to extreme
temperatures, vibration and hazards.
Tr. 17. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable
to perform her past relevant work as a cabinet assembler,
dishwasher/janitor, fast food worker, or delicatessen counter
worker. Tr. 22. 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 employment despite her
impairments. Tr. 22-23. Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff
could perform the representative occupations of table worker,
bagger, and hand packager. Tr. 23. As a result, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning
of the Act. Id.
contends that the ALJ erred by: (I) erroneously discounting
Plaintiff’s subjective symptom testimony; and (II)
improperly rejecting the medical opinion evidence of Kristine