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Boen v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 25, 2014

KIMBERLY R. BOEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

RICHARD F. McGINTY, McGinty & Belcher, PC, Salem, OR, Attorneys 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 Attorney Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN], District Judge.

Plaintiff Kimberly R. Boen 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 (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

For the reasons that follow, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS this matter pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative proceedings consistent with this Opinion and Order.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Plaintiff protectively filed her applications for SSI and DIB on April 3, 2009, and alleged a disability onset date of November 19, 2007. Tr. 159, 163.[2] The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on November 17, 2011. Tr. 47-83. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the hearing. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified at the hearing.

The ALJ issued a decision on December 7, 2011, in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 30-41. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d), that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on June 26, 2013, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on February 13, 1975. Tr. 84. Plaintiff was 36 years old at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff has a high-school education. Tr. 51. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as an accounts-receivable clerk, cashier, fast-food worker, and title clerk. Tr. 39.

Plaintiff alleges disability due to anxiety, depression, and "severe pain." Tr. 179.

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. 35-38.

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, ...


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