United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
DUSTIN A. YOUNG, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Dustin A.
Young's objections (Dkt. No. 15) in response to the
Report and Recommendation filed by the Honorable James P.
Donohue, United States Chief Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 14).
Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and
the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument
unnecessary and hereby OVERRULES the objections and ADOPTS
the Report and Recommendation for the reasons explained
applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental
Security Income in August 2013, citing injuries to his head,
knee, and neck, edema in his right leg, depression, pain
disorder without agoraphobia, and antisocial personality
disorder. Administrative Record (AR) 203-14, 229. The Social
Security Commissioner denied both Plaintiff's original
application and his request for reconsideration. AR 1-6,
administrative appeal, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
found that Plaintiff was not disabled after applying the
Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) five-step sequential
evaluation method detailed by Judge Donohue in his Report and
Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 14 at 3-4.) The ALJ found that
Plaintiff had other reasonable opportunities to earn income,
despite his several severe disabilities. AR 21-29. The ALJ
also found that Plaintiff's knee pain, toe pain, and
edema did not qualify as severe injuries. Id. The
ALJ further discounted part of Plaintiff's witness Dr.
Hopfenbek's medical evaluation after finding that Dr.
Hopfenbek did not sufficiently explain some of his
conclusions. Id. at 21-29, 317-20.
appealed the administrative court's findings. (Dkt. No.
3.) Specifically, Plaintiff claims the ALJ erred by: (1)
finding that Plaintiff's knee and toe pain did not
severely restrict his ability to work, (2) discounting part
of Dr. James Hopfenbek's report, and (3) using erroneous
reasoning between Steps Three and Five of the IRS's
evaluation process. (Dkt. No. 11 at 1-2.) Judge Donohue
recommended that this Court affirm the ALJ's ruling and
deny the appeal. (Dkt. No. 14 at 1.) Plaintiff objected to
Judge Donohue's recommendation. (Dkt. No. 15.)
Standard of Review
district judge reviews objections to a magistrate judge's
report and recommendation de novo. Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3). The district judge may accept, reject, or modify
the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or
return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
district court may disturb the Commissioner's decision
only when the ALJ's findings affirming that decision are
not supported by substantial evidence or are based on legal
error. Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211,
1214 (9th Cir. 2005). The Court evaluates (1) if there is
substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's
findings and (2) if the ALJ applied the correct legal
standards. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Benton ex rel.
Benton v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 1030, 1035
(9th Cir. 2003). Substantial evidence is “relevant
evidence that, considering the entire record, a reasonable
person might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Lewis v. Apfel, 236 F.3d
503, 509 (9th Cir. 2001). When the evidence before an ALJ is
open to multiple rational interpretations, the Court must
defer to the ALJ's decision. Batson v.
Comm'r of Social Security Administration, 359
F.3d 1190, 1196 (9th Cir. 2004).
objects to Judge Donohue's finding that the ALJ did not
err by finding that Plaintiff's knee and toe pain were
not severe impairments. (Dkt. No. 15 at 9.) To be severe,
Plaintiff must make a threshold showing that his impairment
significantly limited his ability to perform basic work
activities for at least 12 months. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 145 (1987); 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). Here, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's knee
and toe pain did not qualify because he only proved that
those conditions existed for 5 and 6 months, respectively.
(See Dkt. No. 11 at 12.) Plaintiff's objection
does not point to any additional facts showing that the pain
lasted for at least 12 months. (See Dkt. No. 15 at
10-11.) Accordingly, this Court rejects Plaintiff's
argument and finds that these determinations are supported by
next objects to Judge Donohue's recommendation that the
ALJ did not err by finding that Plaintiff's
edema-swelling-was not a severe impairment. (Dkt. No. 15 at
9.) Specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not
establish that his edema significantly limited his ability to
work. (Dkt. No. 14 at 7.) In response, Plaintiff argues that
(1) his doctor recommended he use the elevator more
frequently, (2) the same doctor recommended he sleep lower to
the ground, and (3) his mother testified that he was unable
to work in part because of “swelling in his legs and
ankles.” (Dkt. No. 15 at 10.) These examples are not
enough to make the ALJ's finding irrational or contrary
to the ...