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Warzecha v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 6, 2014

TONY P. WARZECHA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

ALAN STUART GRAF, Alan Stuart Graf P.C., Floyd, VA, Attorney for Plaintiff.

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

DAVID MORADO, Regional Chief Counsel, JORDAN D. GODDARD, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tony P. Wazecha 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) 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 AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed his applications for DIB and SSI on April 7, 2012, and April 15, 2012, respectively. Tr. 68, 206.[2] The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a video hearing on February 29, 2012. Tr. 29-66. At the hearing Plaintiff was represented by an attorney. Tr. 13. Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert (VE) testified at the hearing. Tr. 13.

The ALJ issued a decision on March 27, 2012, in which he found Plaintiff was not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 13-23. That decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on May 28, 2013, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on October 8, 1960, and was 51 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 256. Plaintiff completed either tenth grade or received his general equivalency diploma.[3] Tr. 20. He has past work experience as a greens keeper, construction worker, cannery worker, and "green-chain off-bearer." Tr. 51-52.

Plaintiff alleges he has been disabled since May 6, 2010, [4] due to a back injury, mental illness, brain trauma, speech impediment, confusion, a learning disability, "comprehension, " "I don't like being around the Public, " concentration, anger, mood swings, severe anxiety, memory problems, severe headaches, and paranoia. Tr. 262.

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. 15-22.

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 his 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 (9>th 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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