United States District Court, D. Oregon
M. REBERS Attorney for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney
GOWIE Assistant United States Attorney
MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel
A. WOLF Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States Senior District Judge
Marsha W. seeks judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in
which she denied Plaintiff's applications for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance
Benefits (DIB) under Titles XVI and II of the Social Security
reasons that follow, the Court REVERSES the
Commissioner's decision and REMANDS this
matter pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
for the immediate calculation and award of benefits.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on December 2, 2013,
alleging a disability onset date of April 13, 2011. Tr. 231,
The applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on May 20, 2016. Tr. 43-88. At the hearing Plaintiff
was represented by an attorney. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified at the hearing.
issued a decision on September 30, 2016, in which she found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 18-37. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d)
that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
on November 30, 2017, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-6. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
was born on November 17, 1959. Tr. 231. Plaintiff was 56
years old at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff graduated
from high school and has some college. Tr. 49. Plaintiff has
past relevant work experience as a grocery-store department
manager and a customer-service representative. Tr. 35.
alleges disability due to fibromyalgia, knee arthritis,
obesity, depression, headaches, cervical and lumbar
degenerative disc disease, and asthma. Tr. 31.
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. 21-28.
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.
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