United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Wall and Caitlin S. Laumaker, Law Offices of George J.
Wall, Attorneys for Plaintiff.
J. Williams, United States Attorney, and Renata Gowie,
Assistant United States Attorney, United States
Attorney’s Office, Lisa Goldoftas, Special Assistant
United States Attorney, Office of General Counsel, Social
Security Administration, Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.
C. (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) denying his
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act (the “Act”). For the following
reasons, the Commissioner’s decision is AFFIRMED.
district court must affirm the Commissioner’s decision
if it is based on the proper legal standards and the findings
are supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501
(9th Cir. 1989). “Substantial evidence” means
“more than a mere scintilla but less than a
preponderance.” Bray v. Comm ’r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995)). It means “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quoting Andrews, 53
F.3d at 1039).
the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational
interpretation, the Commissioner’s conclusion must be
upheld. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th
Cir. 2005). Variable interpretations of the evidence are
insignificant if the Commissioner’s interpretation is a
rational reading of the record, and this Court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. See
Batson v. Comm ’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d
1190, 1193, 1196 (9th Cir. 2004). “[A] reviewing court
must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm
simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting
evidence.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630
(9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006) (quotation
marks omitted)). A reviewing court, however, may not affirm
the Commissioner on a ground upon which the Commissioner did
not rely. Id; see also Bray, 554 F.3d at 1226.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on February 25, 2015,
alleging disability beginning in August 2012 due to mental
impairments, including bipolar disorder and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. AR 13, 183-95, 233, 328, 696.
Plaintiff was born in 1984 and has a high school education
and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. AR
22, 34, 36, 183, 190, 224. He has past work experience as a
restaurant waiter/server and as a telemarketer. AR 37, 54,
Commissioner denied Plaintiff’s application initially
and upon reconsideration. AR 112-22. Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). AR 135-36. In a decision dated March 10,
2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff was not
disabled. AR 16-26. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff’s request for review, making the ALJ’s
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. AR
1–6; see also 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(a).
Plaintiff seeks judicial review of that decision. This Court
has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
The Sequential Analysis
claimant is disabled if he or 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). “Social Security Regulations set out a
five-step sequential process for determining whether an
applicant is disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act.” Keyser v. Comm’r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011); see
also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; Bowen
v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). Each step is
potentially dispositive. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). The five-step sequential
process asks the following series of questions:
1. Is the claimant performing “substantial gainful
activity?” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i),
416.920(a)(4)(i). This activity is work involving significant
mental or physical duties done or intended to be done for pay
or profit. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1510, 416.910. If the
claimant is performing such work, she is not disabled within
the meaning of the Act. 20 C.F.R. §§