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Logsdon-James v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 11, 2015

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

KATHRYN TASSINARI, DREW L. JOHNSON, Eugene, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

BILLY J. WILLIAMS, Acting United States Attorney, RONALD K. SILVER, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, DAVID MORADO, Office of the General Counsel, >JEFFREY R. McCLAIN, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the General Counsel Social Security Administration Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.


ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Laurie Lee Logsdon-James 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 (the Act). This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

Following a review of the record, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES this matter.


Plaintiff previously applied for Disability Insurance Benefits, but that claim was denied by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on August 2, 2007. Tr. 11.[1]

Plaintiff filed her current applications for DIB and SSI on September 28, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of August 1, 2003. Tr. 156.[2] Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, and she requested a hearing. Tr. 121-25, 128-33. On October 16, 2012, an ALJ conducted a hearing. Tr. 32. Plaintiff, Plaintiff's husband, and a vocational expert (VE) testified at the hearing, and Plaintiff was represented by an attorney.

On November 8, 2012, the ALJ issued her written opinion in which she found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 11-23. On March 28, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-4. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).


Plaintiff was 49 years old on September 30, 2011, her date last insured. Tr. 21. Plaintiff dropped out of high school after completing the tenth grade and later earned a GED. Tr. 38, 377. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a rural mail carrier. Tr. 57.

Plaintiff alleges disability due to major depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, obesity, cervical degenerative disc disease, reactive airway disease, and carpaltunnel syndrome.

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. 14-16, 19-20.


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 medical 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. 44 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).


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. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(I), 416.920(a)(4)(I). See also Keyser v. ...

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