United States District Court, D. Oregon
W. BREWER Attorney for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS JANICE E. HEBERT DAVID MORADO LARS J. NELSON
Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States District Judge
Thea Saari 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.
reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the
Commissioner and DISMISSES this matter.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on September 28, 2012, and
alleged a disability onset date of June 5, 2006. Tr. 195,
Her applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on February 21, 2014. Tr. 50-78. At the hearing
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified. Plaintiff
was represented by an attorney.
6, 2014, the ALJ issued an opinion in which she found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 25-39. On January 29, 2016, that decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner when the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
Tr. 1-6. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07
was born on December 23, 1979. Tr. 195. Plaintiff was 34
years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 54. Plaintiff has a
high-school equivalency diploma. Tr. 55, 220. Plaintiff does
not have any past relevant work experience. Tr. 37, 59.
alleges disability due to bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder,
depression, and "back pain." Tr. 219.
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. 27-37.
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 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 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
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. 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
impairments or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 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