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Marie B. v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 30, 2019

MONICA MARIE B., [1] Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          GEORGE J. WALL Law Office of George J. Wall Attorney for Plaintiff

          BILLY J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant United States Attorney MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel JOSEPH J. LANGKAMER Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNA J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Monica Marie B. seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in which the Commissioner denied Plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act 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. § 405(g).

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

         ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

         On April 10, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed her application for DIB and SSI benefits. Tr. 153, 310.[2] Plaintiff alleges a disability onset date of August 31, 2013. Tr. 153, 310. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on July 27, 2016. Tr. 153, 95-142. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified at the hearing. A supplemental hearing was held on March 6, 2017. Tr. 153, 175-90. Plaintiff and another VE testified at this hearing. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at both hearings.

         On May 31, 2017, the ALJ issued an opinion in which she found Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to benefits. Tr. 153-65. Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council. On April 15, 2018, 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. 1-4. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).

         On May 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born on October 12, 1979. Tr. 163, 310. Plaintiff was 33 years old on her alleged disability onset date. Tr. 163. Plaintiff has at least a high-school education. Tr. 163. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a medical coder and "stores laborer." Tr. 163.

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to bulging discs at ¶ 5-C6, tendonitis in both elbows and hands, bi-lateral carpal tunnel, hypermobile joint syndrome, fibromyalgia, trigger-finger of the middle finger of both hands, and Dupuytren's Syndrome. Tr. 202-03.

         Except 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. 159-162.

         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. ...


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