United States District Court, D. Oregon
ALICIA R. WARNER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
KATHERINE EITENMILLER ROBERT A. BARON, Harder Wells Baron
& Manning, PC, Attorneys for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS, United States Attorney
E. HEBERT, Assistant United States Attorney
MORADO Regional Chief Counsel, ERIN F. HIGHLAND, Special
Assistant United States Attorney Social Security
Administration, Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN, United States District Judge
Alicia R. Warner seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which she denied Plaintiff's application for
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.
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 the immediate calculation
and payment of benefits.
filed an application for SSI on January 27, 2012, and alleged
a disability onset date of January 1, 1995. Tr. 19,
Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on April 30,
2014. Tr. 40. At the hearing Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified. Plaintiff was represented by an
4, 2014, the ALJ issued an opinion in which she found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 19-29. On December 23, 2015, 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 October 16, 1976. Tr. 157. Plaintiff was 37 years
old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 60, 312, 314. Plaintiff
has a high-school diploma with some college education. Tr.
44, 179. Plaintiff does not have any past relevant work
experience. Tr. 28.
alleges disability due to fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder, “[m]ild mental
retardation, ” Asperger syndrome, anxiety and panic
disorders, “chronic pain, ” “chronic
fatigue, ” and scoliosis. Tr. 178.
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. 23-28.
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 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. § 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. §
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.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii). See also Keyser, 648 F.3d
at 724. The criteria for the listed impairments, ...