United States District Court, D. Oregon
R. Shepherd Attorney for Plaintiff
J. Williams, United States Attorney, Renata Gowie, Assistant
United States Attorney
Michael W. Pile, Acting Regional Chief Counsel, Michael
Howard, Special Assistant United States Attorney Social
Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN, UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Amanda Beth B. seeks judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which the Commissioner 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 this matter.
protectively filed her initial application for DIB benefits
on February 21, 2014. Tr. 10.Plaintiff alleged a disability
onset date of June 7, 2013. Plaintiff's application was
denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on May 25, 2016. Tr. 10,
39-87. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified.
Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the hearing.
November 14, 2016, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he
found Plaintiff was not disabled and, therefore, is not
entitled to benefits. Tr. 10-25.
December 27, 2016, Plaintiff requested review of the hearing
decision by the Appeals Council. Tr. 176.
November 6, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request to review the ALJ's decision, and the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr.
1-3. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
January 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born on November 14, 1983, and was 29 years old on her
alleged disability onset date. Tr. 24. Plaintiff has obtained
a G.E.D. and completed some community-college courses. Tr.
24, 46, 67. The ALJ found Plaintiff is able to perform her
past relevant work as a customer-service representative and a
telemarketer. Tr. 23.
alleges disability due to multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and
severe depression. Tr. 99.
as 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. 16-23.
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, 459B60 (9th Cir. 2001)).
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 evaluating a claimant's testimony,
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).
The Regulatory Sequential Evaluation
One the claimant is not disabled if the Commissioner
determines the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity (SGA). 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.
§§ 404.1509, 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). See also
Keyser, 648 F.3d at 724.
Three the claimant is disabled if the Commissioner determines
the claimant's impairments meet or equal one of the
listed impairments that the Commissioner acknowledges are so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). See also Keyser, 648
F.3d at 724. The criteria for the listed impairments, known
as Listings, are enumerated in 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P,
appendix 1 (Listed Impairments).
Commissioner proceeds beyond Step Three, she must assess the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC). The
claimant's RFC is an assessment of the sustained,
work-related physical and mental activities the claimant can
still do on a regular and continuing basis despite her
limitations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e). See also
Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-8p. A A 'regular and
continuing basis' means 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week,
or an equivalent schedule." SSR 96-8p, at *1. In other
words, the Social Security Act does not require complete
incapacity to ...