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Rose v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

November 10, 2014

TIA L. ROSE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

TIM WILBORN, Wilborn Law Office, P.C., Las Vegas, NV, Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, RONALD K. SILVER, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, DAVID MORADO, Regional Chief Counsel, BENJAMIN J. GROEBNER, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tia Rose seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in which she denied Plaintiff's application for 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 AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES this matter.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Plaintiff filed for SSI on August 18, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of February 18, 2006. Tr. 152-55.[1] The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 59-88. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on March 10, 2011. Tr. 96-99. A hearing was held before ALJ Richard Say on July 24, 2012. Tr. 32-58. At the hearing the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff and from vocational expert (VE) Thomas Weiford. Tr. 32-58.

On August 3, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled. Tr. 18-27. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d), that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on September 19, 2013, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-3.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born in January 1971 and was 40 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 32-55, 152. She completed the eleventh grade and speaks English. Tr. 36, 169. Plaintiff has not worked since 2003 and has past relevant work experience as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and as a Keno attendant. Tr. 169. She alleges disability due to chronic back pain, nerve pain in both legs, diabetes, and thyroid issues. Tr. 168.

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 Evaluation

At Step One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(I). See also Keyser v. Comm'r ...


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