United States District Court, D. Oregon
KATHERINE L. EITENMILLER MARK A. MANNING Attorneys for
J. WILLIAMS JANICE E. HEBERT DAVID MORADO ALEXIS L. TOMA
Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States District Judge
Carolyn Lee Hernandez 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. 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 benefits on
December 3, 2012. Tr. 18. Plaintiff alleged a disability onset
date of October 15, 2010. Tr. 18. Plaintiff's application
was denied initially and on reconsideration. An
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on June 11,
2014. Tr. 31-56. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE)
testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the
21, 2014, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 18-26. On July 30, 2014, Plaintiff requested
review by the Appeals Council. Tr. 12, 14. On December 1,
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. 1-3.
See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
January 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born on July 10, 1953. Tr. 58. Plaintiff was 60 years old
at the time of the hearing. Tr. 36. Plaintiff has earned a
GED. Tr. 52. The ALJ found Plaintiff has worked as an
accounting clerk and office assistant. Tr. 52-53.
alleges disability due to obesity, degenerative disc disease,
and neuropathy in her feet due to chemotherapy. Tr. 23, 148.
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. 20-25.
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. 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 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. 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).
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). See
also Keyser v. Comm'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.