United States District Court, D. Oregon
L. GABIN Sara L. Gabin, P.C. Attorney for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney JANICE E. HEBERT Assistant
United States Attorney
MORANDO Regional Chief Counsel MARTHA A. BODEN Special
Assistant United States Attorney
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States Senior District Judge.
Jessica Audrene Shatto seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (SSA) in which she denied Plaintiff's
applications for Childhood Supplemental Security Income
(Childhood SSI) 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
August 20, 2012, an application for Childhood SSI was
protectively filed on behalf of Plaintiff who was under 18
years of age at that time. Tr. 102. Plaintiff alleges a
disability onset date of January 1, 2000, when she was four
years old. Tr. 102. The Commissioner denied the application
initially on December 17, 2012, and on reconsideration on
March 13, 2013. Tr. 130, 137. Plaintiff reached 18 years of
age while her claim was pending review by an Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ). An initial hearing was held June 9, 2014, at
which Plaintiff appeared pro se with her mother. The
hearing was rescheduled to provide Plaintiff with the
opportunity to obtain counsel. Tr. 57-67. The ALJ held a
second hearing on November 21, 2014. Tr. 68-100. Plaintiff
and a vocational expert (VE) testified. Plaintiff was
represented by an attorney at this hearing.
March 13, 2015, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found
Plaintiff was not disabled from the date of her application
and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 33-51. On
March 27, 2015, Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals
Council. Tr. 21. On June 8, 2016, 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 Sim v. Apfel, 530 U.S.
103, 106-107 (2000).
20, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court seeking
review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born February 20, 1995. Tr. 37, 102. At the time of the
hearings before the ALJ, Plaintiff lived with her parents.
Tr. 72. Plaintiff reached 18 years of age on February 20,
2013. Tr. 51. Plaintiff graduated from high school with a
modified diploma. Tr. 49, 72. Although Plaintiff worked
part-time at a McDonald's, she does not have an earnings
history sufficient to qualify her as engaging in substantial
gainful activity. Tr. 49.
alleges disability due to an audio-learning disorder, a
slight hearing loss, and dyslexia. Tr. 102.
federal law a claimant under 18 years of age is disabled if
she has a “medically determinable physical or mental
impairment, which results in marked and severe functional
limitations, and which . . . has lasted or can be expected to
last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a)(3)(C)(I). The initial
burden of proof rests on the claimant to establish her
disability. Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9th Cir. 2012). The Commissioner bears the burden of
developing the record. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d
841, 849 (9th Cir. 1991).
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).
Determining Childhood Disability
individual under 18 years of age is eligible for Childhood
SSI payments based on disability if she suffers from "a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which
results in marked and severe functional limitations, and
which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted
or can be expected to last for a ...