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Winward-King v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 17, 2014

CATHERINE WINWARD-KING, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

GEORGE J. WALL, Law Offices of George J. Wall, Portland, OR, Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, ADRIAN L. BROWN, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR.

DAVID MORADO, Regional Chief Counsel, LARS J. NELSON, Special Assistant United States Attorneys, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Catherine Winward-King seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in which she denied Plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIE) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments under Title XVI.

This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Following a thorough review of the record, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES this matter.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI on May 30, 2010. Tr. 25. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on July 9, 2011. Tr. 25. At the hearing Plaintiff was represented by an attorney. Tr. 25. Plaintiff, lay witness John Winward, and a Vocational Expert (VE) testified at the hearing. Tr. 25.

The ALJ issued a decision on August 30, 2012, in which he found Plaintiff was not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 39. That decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on January 17, 2013, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 7.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on August 22, 1963, and was 48 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 160. Plaintiff completed one year of college. Tr. 310. She has past relevant work experience as a bus driver, caregiver, and housekeeper. Tr. 37, 1042.

Plaintiff alleges she has been disabled since April 29, 2008, due to chronic migraines; chronic neck, shoulder, arm, and back pain; leg and foot pain; anxiety, and depression. Tr. 138, 191.

Except when noted, Plaintiff does not challenge the ALJ's summary of the medical evidence. After carefully reviewing the medical records, this Court adopts the ALJ's summary of the medical evidence. See Tr. 27-37.

STANDARDS

The initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012). To meet this burden, a claimant must demonstrate her inability "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). The ALJ must develop the record when there is ambiguous evidence or when the record is inadequate to allow for proper evaluation of the evidence. McLeod v. Astrue, 640 F.3d 881, 885 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Mayes v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459-60 (9th Cir. 2001)).

The district 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 as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See also Brewes v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is "relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Molina, 674 F.3d. at 1110-11 (quoting Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 690 (9th Cir. 2009)). It is more than a "mere scintilla" of evidence but less than a preponderance. Id. (citing Valentine, 574 F.3d at 690).

The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in the medical evidence, and resolving ambiguities. Vasquez v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591 (9th Cir. 2009). The court must weigh all of the evidence whether it supports or detracts from the Commissioner's decision. Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 528 F.3d 1194, 1198 (9th Cir. 2008). Even when the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the court must uphold the Commissioner's findings if they are supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the record. Ludwig v. Astrue, 681 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2012). The court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1070 (9th Cir. 2006).

DISABILITY ANALYSIS

I. The Regulatory Sequential ...


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