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Gott v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 2, 2015

RHONDA GOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

BRUCE W. BREWER, West Linn, OR, Attorney for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, RONALD K. SILVER, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, DAVID MORADO, Regional Chief Counsel, COURTNEY M. GARCIA, Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Rhonda Gott seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in which she denied Plaintiff's applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Titles XVI and II 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 applications for DIB and SSI on January 5, 2010, and alleged a disability onset date of May 1, 2009. Tr. 177, 179.[1] Her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on September 1, 2011, and a supplemental hearing on December 21, 2011. Tr. 30, 48. At the initial hearing Plaintiff, a medical expert (ME), and a lay witness testified. At the supplemental hearing Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified. Tr. 30-47, 48-78. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney.

On January 11, 2012, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 14-24. On July 15, 2013, that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-6.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on March 1, 1963. Tr. 177. Plaintiff was 48 years old at the time of both of the hearings. Plaintiff went to school through the ninth grade. Tr. 215. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a cleaner/housekeeper, a laundry worker, and an exterminator. Tr. 23.

Plaintiff alleges disability due to seizures, chronic pancreatitis, migraines, depression, and anxiety. Tr. 56.

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. 17, 19-22.

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 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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