United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
November 24, 2014
ALAN E. WOOD, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of the Honorable John L. Weinberg, United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. 24), and Plaintiff Alan Wood's ("Wood") objections to the R&R (Dkt. 26).
I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On August 29, 2014, Judge Weinberg issued the R&R recommending that the Court affirm the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") decision that Wood did not satisfy the requirements of Social Security Listing 12.05. Dkt. 24.
On September 15, 2014, Wood filed objections. Dkt. 26. On September 25, 2014, the Government responded. Dkt. 28. On October 2, 2014, Wood replied. Dkt. 29.
Wood objects to Judge Weinberg's recommended disposition. Dkt. 26. Wood argues that he satisfied the requirements of Listing 12.05B and C. Id. at 1.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) governs objections to a magistrate judge's recommended disposition. Rule 72(b) provides as follows:
The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).
To establish a disability under Listing 12.05, a claimant must satisfy the diagnostic description in the introductory paragraph, as well as one of the criteria in parts A through D. 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. § 12.00A. Listing 12.05 provides, in relevant part, as follows:
Intellectual disability refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested during the developmental period; i.e., the evidence demonstrates or supports onset of the impairment before age 22.
The required level of severity for this disorder is met when the requirements in A, B, C, or D are satisfied....
B. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 59 or less; or
C. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70 and a physical or other mental impairment imposing an additional and significant work-related limitation or function....
Id. § 12.05.
In this case, the ALJ found that Wood did not satisfy Listing 12.05's diagnostic description. AR 23. According to the ALJ, the evidence did not demonstrate that Wood's impairment began before age 22. Id. Judge Weinberg determined that the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence. Dkt. 24 at 7.
Wood argues that Listing 12.05's diagnostic description requires only a de minimis showing of deficits in adaptive functioning before age 22. Dkt. 26 at 3. According to Wood, the phrase "deficits in adaptive functioning" merely provides context and etiology to "significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning" in the diagnostic description. Id.
Wood's argument is inconsistent with the plain language of Listing 12.05. Listing 12.05 requires that "the evidence demonstrates or supports onset of the impairment before age 22." 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. § 12.05. Listing 12.05 defines "the impairment" (i.e., intellectual disability) as "significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive functioning...." Id. Based on this language, the impairment consists of both significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning and deficits in adaptive functioning. See id. Rather than merely providing context, the deficits in adaptive functioning are part of the impairment itself. Accordingly, Listing 12.05's diagnostic description requires more than a de minimis showing of deficits in adaptive functioning before age 22.
In light of Listing 12.05's language, the Court agrees with Judge Weinberg that the ALJ's decision should be upheld. Although Wood recounts additional facts in the record, the interpretation of evidence is within the ALJ's purview. See Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002) ("Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ's decision, the ALJ's conclusion must be upheld."). Here, a review of the record indicates that the ALJ's conclusion is supported by substantial evidence, which is cited and thoroughly addressed in the R&R. See Dkt. 24 at 6-7. Thus, the ALJ's decision must be upheld.
The Court having considered the R&R, Wood's objections, and the remaining record, does hereby find and order as follows:
(1) The R&R is ADOPTED;
(2) The ALJ's decision is AFFIRMED; and
(3) This action is DISMISSED.