United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. MCSHANE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kenyari Williams brings this action for judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
her application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The Court has
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
1383(c)(3). Because the Commissioner's decision is based
on proper legal standards and supported by substantial
evidence, the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
filed an application for SSI on May 15, 2012, alleging
disability beginning on September 28, 1990. Tr.
The claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Id. Following a hearing, the administrative law
judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's claim. Tr. 11. The Appeals Council denied the
request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-3. This appeal followed.
reviewing court shall affirm the Commissioner's decision
if the decision is based on proper legal standards and the
legal findings are supported by substantial evidence in the
record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r for
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004).
“Substantial evidence is ‘more than a mere
scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Hill v. Astrue,
698 F.3d 1153, 1159 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sandgathe v.
Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997)). To determine
whether substantial evidence exists, this Court reviews the
administrative record as a whole, weighing both supporting
and deterring evidence from the ALJ's conclusion.
Martinez v. Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir.
1986). The ALJ may “reject the claimant's testimony
about the severity of her symptoms only by offering specific,
clear and convincing reasons for doing so.”
Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806 F.3d 487, 493 (9th Cir.
2015) (quoting Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d
1029, 1036 (9th Cir. 2007)).
Commissioner's findings are upheld if supported by
inferences reasonably drawn from the record; if evidence
exists to support more than one rational interpretation, the
court must defer to the Commissioner's decision.
Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193; Aukland v.
Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1034-35 (9th Cir. 2000). A
reviewing court, however, “cannot affirm the
Commissioner's decision on a ground that the
Administration did not invoke in making its decision.”
Stout v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 454 F.3d 1050,
1054 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). A court may not
reverse an ALJ's decision on account of a harmless error.
Id. at 1055- 56. “[T]he burden of showing that
an error is harmful normally falls upon the party attacking
the agency's determination.” Shinseki v.
Sanders, 556 U.S. 396, 409 (2009). The ALJ is the final
arbiter with respect to resolving ambiguities in the medical
evidence. Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1041
(9th. Cir. 2008).
need not discuss all evidence presented, but must explain why
significant probative evidence has been rejected. Stark
v. Shalala, 886 F.Supp. 733, 735 (D. Or. 1995). See
also Howard ex rel. Wolff v. Barnhart, 341 F.3d 1006,
1012 (9th Cir. 2003) (in interpreting the evidence and
developing the record, the ALJ need not discuss every piece
Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five step
sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. The initial burden of
proof rests upon the claimant to meet the first four steps.
If claimant satisfies his or her burden with respect to the
first four steps, the burden shifts to the Commissioner at
step five. Id. At step five, the Commissioner's
burden is to demonstrate the claimant is capable of making an
adjustment to other work after considering the claimant's
residual functional capacity (RFC), age, education, and work
experience. Id. If the reviewing agency determines
that the claimant is or is not disabled at any step of the
evaluation process, the evaluation will not go onto the next
the ALJ found at step one of the sequential analysis that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since May 15, 2012, the application date. Tr. 17. At step
two, the ALJ found she suffered from the following severe
impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, personality
disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
and speech problems. Tr. 17. At step three, the ALJ found
that none of Plaintiff's impairments, alone or in
combination, met or medically equaled one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
four, the ALJ found the Plaintiff's RFC allowed her to
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, but
with the following non-exertional limitations: she is limited
to simple routine tasks at no more than a specialized
vocational preparation (SVP) of 1 or 2; requiring no more
than occasional interaction with the public and coworkers.
Tr. 21. Given these restrictions, and relying on the
vocational expert's (VE) testimony, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff could perform the requirements of representative
medium work, unskilled (SVP-2) occupations such as janitor,
or laundry worker. Tr. 25. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
was capable of performing other work that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy. Id.
Medical Source Opinions.
Williams asserts that the ALJ improperly ignored the medical
opinions of Dr. Ronald Duvall, Ph.D. and Dr. James Bryan,
Ph.D. Pl.'s Br. 5, 8, ECF No. 19. Dr. Duvall examined Ms.
Williams in August of 2012. Tr. 284-288. Dr. Duvall found Ms.
Williams to have “significant” problems with
attention, concentration, and working memory. Id. He
did not indicate the degree to which these problems would
affect her ability to function. At most, Dr. Duvall states
that “these problems impaired her work performance ...