United States District Court, D. Oregon
ROBERT G. W., JR.,  Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
S. COON SCOTT A. SELL Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost
Attorneys for Plaintiff
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
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert G. W., Jr., 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 AFFIRMS the
decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES
15, 2015, Plaintiff protectively filed his application for
DIB benefits. Tr. 13, 177. Plaintiff alleges a disability onset
date of August 4, 2014. Tr. 13, 177. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and on reconsideration. An
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on September 6,
2017. Tr. 34-68. At the hearing Plaintiff requested a closed
period of disability from July 24, 2014, when he was injured,
through August 10, 2016. Tr. 38. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified at the hearing. Plaintiff was
represented by an attorney at the hearing.
November 24, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision in which he
denied Plaintiff's allegation that he was disabled during
the closed period from July 24, 2014, to August 10, 2016, on
the ground that Plaintiff was not disabled at any time from
his alleged disability onset date, and, therefore, is not
entitled to benefits. Tr. 13-28.
requested review by the Appeals Council. On October 3, 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).
November 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.
was born on December 16, 1969. Tr. 27, 177. Plaintiff was 44
years old on his alleged disability onset date. Tr. 27.
Plaintiff has at least a high-school education. Tr. 27.
Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as a machinist.
alleges disability due to a spinal and low-back injury,
limited range of motion in his left arm and shoulder, bipolar
disorder, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and
carpel tunnel in both hands. Tr. 70.
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. 20-25.
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 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. 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. ...