United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Yim You United States Magistrate Judge
Crystal B. seeks judicial review of the final decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433, and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. This court
has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final
decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
1383(g)(3). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on January 14, 2015,
alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 1997. Tr. 13,
188-202. Her date last insured is December 31, 2010. Tr. 15.
The Commissioner denied plaintiff's claim on May 15,
2015, and again upon reconsideration on June 18, 2015. Tr.
13. Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing on July
7, 2015. Tr. 138. On April 12, 2017, plaintiff appeared for a
hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Mark Triplett. Tr. 13. At the hearing, plaintiff amended her
alleged disability onset date to January 31, 2009.
Id. After receiving testimony from plaintiff and a
vocational expert, Vernon G. Arne, the ALJ issued a decision
on June 13, 2017, finding plaintiff not disabled within the
meaning of the Act. Tr. 13-24. The Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review on November 24, 2018,
making the ALJ's written decision the Commissioner's
final decision and subject to judicial review by this court.
Tr. 1-3; 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); 20 C.F.R. § 422.210.
reviewing court must affirm the Commissioner's decision
if it is based on proper legal standards and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Lewis v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 909, 911
(9th Cir. 2007). This court must weigh the evidence that
supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion and
“‘may not affirm simply by isolating a specific
quantum of supporting evidence.'” Garrison v.
Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th
Cir. 2007)). This court may not substitute its judgment for
that of the Commissioner when the evidence can reasonably
support either affirming or reversing the decision. Parra
v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Instead,
where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational
interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be
upheld if it is “supported by inferences reasonably
drawn from the record.” Tommasetti v. Astrue,
533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); see
also Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035.
is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
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). The ALJ engages in a five-step sequential
inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled within
the meaning of the Act. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
416.920; Lounsburry v. Barnhart, 468 F.3d 1111, 1114
(9th Cir. 2006) (discussing Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1098-99 (9th Cir. 1999)).
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since her amended alleged onset date of
January 31, 2009. Tr. 15. At step two, the ALJ determined
plaintiff suffered from the following severe medical
impairments: major depressive disorder, recurrent, severe
with psychotic features; posttraumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”); and borderline intellectual
three, the ALJ found plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a
listed impairment. Tr. 16. The ALJ next assessed
plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) and determined she could perform the full
range of heavy or very heavy work as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567, but was limited to “simple, routine
tasks with a reasoning level of 1 or 2” and
“occasional contact with the general public and with
coworkers.” Tr. 18.
four, the ALJ found plaintiff was unable to perform her past
relevant work as a vault cashier. Tr. 22-23.
five, the ALJ found that considering plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, she could perform jobs
that existed in significant numbers in the national economy,
including laundry laborer, hand packager, and vehicle
cleaner. Tr. 23-24. Thus, the ALJ concluded plaintiff was not
disabled at any time from January 31, 2009, the alleged onset
date, through June 13, 2017, the date of the ALJ's
decision. Tr. 24.
contends the ALJ erroneously rejected her subjective symptom
testimony, the medical opinion evidence, and the lay witness
testimony of her husband and sister.
Subjective Symptom Testimony
completed a function report on February 6, 2015. Tr. 249-56.
She reported that she did not want to leave her house due to
social anxiety, paranoia, and nervousness. Tr. 249. She would
“hear things, ” and “always” saw
“stuff from the corner of [her] eyes” that was
not there. Id. She had nightmares about a prior
abusive relationship, and could not stop thinking about why
she had stayed with the abuser and did not call the police.
cared for three of her children. Tr. 250. Because her
boyfriend worked, she cooked, cleaned, and did laundry. Tr.
250-51. She reported spending about 15 minutes a day on each
chore. Tr. 251. Plaintiff prepared “easy stuff”
for her children during the day and would “try [to
cook] a nice dinner.” Id. However, it took her
“all day” to prepare meals because she did not
know what to make and depended on internet recipes.
was able to drive, but reported she could not go out alone
because she needed “someone there for backup.”
Tr. 252. However, she was capable of driving alone if
necessary. Tr. 256. Plaintiff went shopping twice a month for
an hour at a time. Tr. 252.
played games with her children, Tr. 250, but felt like a
“crapy [sic] mom” because, although she made sure
her children ate and showered, she never took them anywhere.
Tr. 253. For hobbies, plaintiff said, “We color, play
puzzles, game, sewing.” Tr. 253. In response to the
question, “How often and how well do you do these
things?, ” plaintiff responded, “All the time and
pretty good.” Id. She stated that she used to
be an outside person, who swam, bar-b-qued, and did
“outside family thing[s], ” but “now I like
to do all indoor stuff.” Id. She did not like
to be out of the house very long because she did not want
anyone to start talking with her or seeing what she was
doing. Tr. 252.
personal care, plaintiff lacked the energy to shower some
days. Tr. 251. She did not usually fix her hair, and