United States District Court, D. Oregon
KERR Schneider Kerr & Robichaux Attorneys for Plaintiff
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney
GOWIE Assistant United States Attorney
MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel
MICHAEL S. HOWARD Special Assistant United States Attorney
Social Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN, UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
Richard Lee H. seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA)
in which he 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 March 31, 2015, alleging a
disability onset date of May 13, 2012. Tr. 220. The application
was denied initially and on reconsideration. An
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on September
14, 2017. Tr. 35-74. At the hearing Plaintiff amended his
disability onset date to January 24, 2015. Tr. 39. Plaintiff
was represented at the hearing. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified.
issued a decision on December 1, 2017, in which he found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 13-34. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d),
that decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
on October 11, 2018, 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 June 8, 1971, and was 46 years old at the time of
the hearing. Tr. 220. Plaintiff completed high school. Tr.
41. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as an
auto-body helper and transportation equipment/autobody
painter. Tr. 28.
alleges disability due to a “pinched nerve at ¶
6-C7, ” chronic nerve damage, “right arm
problems, ” and “breathing problems.” Tr.
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. 19-20, 26-28.
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 his 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.