United States District Court, D. Oregon
MERRILL SCHNEIDER Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorneys
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief
Counsel HEATHER L. GRIFFITH Special Assistant United States
Attorney Social Security Administration Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN, UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Donna Marie M. 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) under Title II 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 an application for DIB on November 22, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of October 18, 2013. Tr.
144.The application was denied initially and on
reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on April 19, 2016. Tr. 36-52. Plaintiff was
represented at the hearing. Plaintiff and a vocational expert
issued a decision on May 20, 2016, in which he found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 18-35. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d),
that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
on July 29, 2017, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-7. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on April 9, 1962, and was 54 years old at the time
of the hearing. Tr. 144. Plaintiff has two associate's
degrees. Tr. 41. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience
as a flagger, bartender, bus driver, security guard, and
environmental-cleanup worker. Tr. 49.
alleges disability due to melanoma cancer, back injury, neck
injury, and depression. Tr. 54.
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. 27-29.
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 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.
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
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.
§ 404.1520. Each step is potentially dispositive.
One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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
impairment or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.