United States District Court, D. Oregon
KATHERINE L. EITENMILLER MARK A. MANNING Harder, Wells, Baron
& Manning Attorneys for Plaintiff.
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney JANICE E. HEBERT Assistant
United States Attorney DAVID MORADO Regional Chief Counsel
ALEXIS L. TOMA Special Assistant United States Attorney
Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States District Judge.
Karen Sue Mainwaring seeks judicial review of the 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 and 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).
reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the
Commissioner and DISMISSES this matter.
protectively filed her application for DIB and SSI benefits
on March 29, 2012. Tr. 24. Plaintiff alleged a disability onset
date of December 12, 2007. Tr. 24. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and on reconsideration. An
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on January 24,
2014. Tr. 42-80. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE)
testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the
6, 2014, the ALJ issued an opinion in which she found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 24-35. On June 23, 2014, Plaintiff requested
review by the Appeals Council. Tr. 18. On November 13, 2015,
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff s request to review the
ALJ's decision, and the ALJ's decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 2-5. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000) .
January 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born on September 30, 1962. Tr. 34. Plaintiff was 51
years old at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff achieved a
GED and completed some college, but she did not earn a
degree. Tr. 50-51. The ALJ found Plaintiff has worked as a
flagger and warehouse worker, but she is unable to perform
any past relevant work. Tr. 34.
alleges disability due to severe migraines, post- traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), hypertension, depression, adjustment
disorder, and suicidal tendencies and thoughts. Tr. 81.
as 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. 29-34.
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)).
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. Comrn'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. Comrn'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 evaluating a claimant's testimony,
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. Comrn'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).
The Regulatory Sequential Evaluation
One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity (SGA) . 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 (a) (4) (I),
416.920(a) (4) (I). See also Keyset v. Coram''r
of Soc. Sec, 648 F.3d 721, 724 (9th Cir. 2011).
Two the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant does not have any medically severe
impairment or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1509, 404.1520(a) (4) (ii), 416.920(a) (4)
(ii) . See also Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724.
Three the claimant is disabled if the Commissioner determines
the claimant's impairments meet or equal one of the
listed impairments that the Commissioner acknowledges are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a) (4) (iii), 416.920(a) (4) (iii) .
See also Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724. The criteria for
the listed ...