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 LISA GOLDOFTAS Special Assistant United States
Attorney, Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
Stephanie Louise H. 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.
This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's
final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
reasons that follow, the Court REVERSES the
decision of the Commissioner and REMANDS
this matter for further administrative proceedings.
October 3, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed her application
for DIB benefits. Tr. 19, 149-50. Plaintiff alleges a
disability onset date of April 7, 2013. Tr. 19, 149.
Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on
reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on April 4, 2017. Tr. 19, 38-62. Plaintiff and a
vocational expert (VE) testified at the hearing. Plaintiff
was represented by an attorney at the hearing.
23, 2017, the ALJ issued an opinion in which she found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 19-29. Plaintiff requested review by the
Appeals Council. On May 22, 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. 1-3. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S.
103, 106-07 (2000).
19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court seeking
review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born on February 7, 1973. Tr. 27, 149. Plaintiff was 40
years old on her alleged disability onset date. Plaintiff has
completed high school, attended college, and obtained an
Associate Degree. Tr. 27, 42. Plaintiff has past relevant
work experience as a lab-sample carrier. Tr. 27.
alleges disability due to anxiety, depression,
"liver," and "weak bones." Tr. 64.
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. 23-26.
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.
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 Arelevant 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 ...