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Callaway v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 30, 2017

MICHAEL PATRICK CALLAWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MICHAEL PATRICK CALLAWAY Plaintiff, Pro Se

          BILLY J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney JANICE E. HEBERT Assistant United States Attorney

          DAVID MORADO Regional Chief Counsel HEATHER L. GRIFFITH Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant

          AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNA J. BROWN United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Michael Patrick Callaway 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 his applications for DIB and SSI on November 1, 2010. Tr. 191, 198.[2] Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of June 1, 2009. His applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on August 23, 2012. Tr. 33-80. At the hearing Plaintiff was represented by an attorney. Plaintiff, a lay witness, and a vocational expert (VE) testified at the hearing.

         The ALJ issued a decision on September 21, 2012, in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 36-51. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d) that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on September 3, 2015, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 3-6. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born on July 3, 1985, and was 27 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 191. Plaintiff has an Associates Degree and, at the time of the hearing, was taking classes towards a Masters Degree in architecture. Tr. 38-41. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a construction worker, janitor, and landscape crew member. Tr. 240, 258. Plaintiff alleges disability due to fibromyalgia, neuropathy, arthritis, migraines, herniated discs, muscle spasms, “trigger finger, ” and carpal-tunnel syndrome. Tr. 234.

         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. 19-21, 23-25.

         STANDARDS

         The initial burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9thCir. 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. 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 ...


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