United States District Court, D. Oregon
SCOTT WAYSON Cascadia Disability Law LLC Attorneys for
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief
Counsel SARAH ELIZABETH MOUM Special Assistant United States
Attorney Social Security Administration Attorneys for
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Amy D. 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
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 further proceedings.
filed an application for DIB on June 4, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of January 1, 2013. Tr.
231-37. The application was denied initially and
on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on December 19, 2016. Tr. 62-91. At the hearing
Plaintiff amended her disability onset date to June 15, 2014.
Tr. 65. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the
hearing. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified.
The ALJ held a supplemental hearing on June 5, 2017, at which
a medical expert (ME) and VE testified.
issued a decision on June 22, 2017, in which he found
Plaintiff was not disabled from June 15, 2014, through the
date of the ALJ's decision and, therefore, is not
entitled to benefits. Tr. 23-38. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §
404.984(d), that decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner on June 19, 2018, 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 January 24, 1962; was 54 years old at the time of
the first hearing; and was 55 years old at the time of the
supplemental hearing. Tr. 231. Plaintiff has a college
degree. Tr. 28. The ALJ found Plaintiff has past relevant
work experience as a controller and financial director. Tr.
alleges disability during the relevant period due to
depression, “short-term memory problems, ”
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), migraines, sleeping
problems, arthritis, and Hashimoto's disease. Tr. 93-94.
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. 30-34.
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.