United States District Court, D. Oregon
MITCHELL C. BROWN, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
MERRILL SCHNEIDER Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorneys
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney, MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief
Counsel MARTHA A. BODEN Special Assistant United States
Attorney Social Security Administration Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States Senior District Judge.
Mitchell C. Brown seeks judicial review of a final decision
of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(SSA) in which he denied Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II 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.
reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the
decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES
filed applications for DIB and SSI on January 9, 2013,
alleging a disability onset date of December 31, 2011. Tr.
69, 85, 199, 206. The applications were denied initially and
on reconsideration. Tr. 69-132. An Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) held a hearing on April 29, 2016. Tr. 34-68. Plaintiff
was represented at the hearing. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified.
issued a decision on August 4, 2016, in which he found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 14-28. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d),
that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
on December 5, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-4. See also
Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on December 31, 1960, and was 55 years old at the
time of the hearing. Tr. 199. Plaintiff completed high school
and two years of college. Tr. 245. Plaintiff has past
relevant work experience as a sales representative and an
"outside sales representative." Tr. 27.
alleges disability due to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),
depression, shoulder injury, ankle injury, attention-deficit
hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and neuropathy of the right
foot. Tr. 244.
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. 21-22, 24-27.
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 his 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.
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.
Commissioner has developed a five-step sequential inquiry to
determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning
of the Act. Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746
(9th Cir. 2007). See also 20 C.F.R.