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Polston v. Commissioner Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 8, 2018

ELYSE S. POLSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          KATHRYN TASSINARI MARK A. MANNING, Attorneys for Plaintiff

          BILLY J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney, RENATA GOWIE, Assistant United States Attorney,

          Michael W. Pile Acting Regional Chief Counsel Social Security Administration, Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNA J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Elyse S. Polston seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in which she denied Plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Titles II and 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).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES this matter.

         ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB and SSI on January 29, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of October 1, 2011. Tr. 17.[1] The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on June 23, 2015. Tr. 44-85. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the hearing. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified.

         The ALJ issued a decision on July 27, 2015, in which he found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 17-30. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d), that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on December 19, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-4. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born on August 10, 1989, and was 25 years old at the time of the hearing. Tr. 209. Plaintiff completed high school. Tr. 223. Plaintiff previously worked at a call center dialing telephones and performing general work in a kitchen. Tr. 223.

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to morbid obesity and lymphedema. Tr. 222.

         Except 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. 20-28

         STANDARDS

         The 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)).

         The 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). '

         The ALJ 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. 2006).

         DISABILITY ...


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