United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
Glen E. R.,  Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
D.CLARKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Glen R. ("Plaintiff) seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration denying his claims for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security
income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
For the reasons provided below, the Commissioner's
decision is AFFIRMED.
was born December 17, 1964. Tr. 64. He has completed one year
of college and has training in auto mechanics as well as in
heating and air conditioning. Tr. 241. He has past relevant
work experience as a manager and a cook. Tr. 241. On January
21, 2014, Plaintiff applied for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security
income, alleging disability beginning January 1, 1991, due to
lower back problems. Tr. 15, 64, 71, 86. These claims were
denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 15. A short
hearing was held on December 6, 2016 before an Administrative
Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ continued the hearing so
that Plaintiff could retain counsel, undergo a consulting
examination, and gather more medical records. Tr. 59-60. An
additional hearing was held on August 14, 2017. At the August
2017 hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to
December 17, 2015, the date of his 50th birthday. Tr. 15.
August 28, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff
not disabled under the Social Security Act. Tr. 15-23. On
April 25, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. T.
1-6. Plaintiff now appeals that final decision.
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 V, Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011). 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;
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.
§§404.1520(a)(4)(i); 416.920(a)(4)(i). If the
claimant is not performing substantial gainful activity, the
analysis proceeds to step two.
the claimant's impairment "severe" under the
Commissioner's regulations? 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii); 4l6.92O(a)(4)(ii). Unless expected to
result in death, an impairment is "severe" if it
significantly limits the claimant's physical or mental
ability to do basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1521(a); 416.921(a). This impairment must have lasted or
must be expected to last for a continuous period of at least
12 months. 20 C.F.R. §§404.1509; 416.909. If the
claimant does not have a severe impairment, the analysis
ends. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii);
416.920(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant has a severe impairment,
the analysis proceeds to step three.
the claimant's severe impairment "meet or
equal" one or more of the impairments listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, then the
claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii); 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the impairment
does not meet or equal one or more of the listed impairments,
the analysis proceeds to the "residual functional
capacity" ("RFC") assessment.
a. The ALJ must evaluate medical and other relevant evidence
to assess and determine the claimant's RFC. This is an
assessment of work-related activities that the claimant may
still perform on a regular and continuing basis, despite any
limitations imposed by his or her impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e); 404.1545(b)-(c); 416.920(e);
416.945(b)-(c). After the ALJ determines the claimant's
RFC, the analysis proceeds to step four.
the claimant perform his or her "past relevant
work" with this RFC assessment? If so, then the claimant
is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv);
416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant cannot perform his or her
past relevant work, the analysis proceeds to step five.
Considering the claimant's RFC and age, education, and
work experience, is the claimant able to make an adjustment
to other work that exists in significant numbers in the
national economy? If so, then the claimant is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v); 416.920(a)(4)(v);
404.1560(c); 416.960(c). If the claimant cannot perform such
work, he or she is disabled. Id.
See also Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949,
954-55 (9th Cir. 2001).
claimant bears the burden of proof at steps one through four.
Id. at 954. The Commissioner bears the burden of
proof at step five. Id. at 953-54. At step five, the
Commissioner must show that the claimant can perform other
work that exists in significant numbers in the national
economy, "taking into consideration the claimant's
residual functional capacity, age, education, and work
experience." Tackett v. Apfel,180 F.3d 1094,
1100 (9th Cir. 1999) (internal citations omitted); see
also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1566; 416.966
(describing "work which exists in the national
economy"). If the Commissioner fails to meet this
burden, the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(v); 416.920(a)(4)(v). If, however, the
Commissioner proves that ...