United States District Court, D. Oregon
DARL N. RODGERS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
STUART GRAF Attorney for Plaintiff.
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney JANICE E. HEBERT Assistant
United States Attorney, DAVID MORADO Regional Chief Counsel
JORDAN D. GODDARD Special Assistant United States Attorney
Social Security Administration, Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States District Judge.
Darl N. Rodgers seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which she denied Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the
Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction to review
the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
reasons that follow, the Court REVERSES the decision of the
Commissioner and REMANDS this matter pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further proceedings.
filed an application for DIB on August 3, 2012, alleging a
disability onset date of April 6, 2010. Tr.
The application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on June 16,
2014. Tr. 35-61. Plaintiff was represented at the hearing.
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified. The ALJ
issued a decision on July 23, 2014, in which she found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 21-30. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d),
that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
on September 25, 2015, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-6. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born December 17, 1959, and was 54 years old at the time
of the hearing. Tr. 135. Plaintiff completed high school. Tr.
40. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a cabinet
maker. Tr. 58.
alleges disability due to Perth's disease, leg and foot
pain, and lower-back pain. Tr. 151.
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. 25-27.
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 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Mayes
v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459-60 (9th Cir.
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).
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.
The Regulatory Sequential Evaluation
Commissioner has developed a five-step sequential inquiry to
determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning
of the Act. Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746
(9th Cir. 2007). See also 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520. Each step is potentially dispositive.
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). See also
Keyser v. ...