United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
Alice Theiler United States Magistrate Judge.
Laporia Cooper proceeds through counsel in her appeal of a
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (Commissioner). The Commissioner denied
plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). Having considered the ALJ's decision, the
administrative record (AR), and all memoranda of record, this
matter is AFFIRMED.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1987. She completed the eleventh grade and
obtained a certified nursing assistant (CNA) license. (AR
41-42.) Plaintiff previously worked as a home attendant,
child monitor, and waitress. (AR 42, 51.)
protectively filed an SSI application in April 2013, alleging
disability beginning December 28, 2012. (AR 142.) Her
application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
April 1, 2015, ALJ Gary Elliott held a hearing, taking
testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR
37-54.) On April 8, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled since her application date. (AR
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on April 8, 2015 (AR 1-5), making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to
Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2000).
At step one, it must be determined whether the claimant is
gainfully employed. The ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
At step two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers
from a severe impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive
disorder severe. Step three asks whether a claimant's
impairments meet or equal a listed impairment. The ALJ found
plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the
criteria of a listed impairment.
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listing,
the Commissioner must assess residual functional capacity
(RFC) and determine at step four whether the claimant has
demonstrated an inability to perform past relevant work. The
ALJ found plaintiff able to perform a full range of work at
all exertional levels, and able to perform simple, routine,
repetitive tasks and occasionally have superficial contact
with the public and coworkers. With that assessment, the ALJ
found plaintiff unable to perform her past relevant work.
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform past relevant
work, or has no past relevant work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate at step five that the claimant
retains the capacity to make an adjustment to work that
exists in significant levels in the national economy. With
the assistance of the VE, the ALJ found plaintiff capable of
performing other jobs, such as work as a janitor, cleaner II,
and sorter, agricultural produce.
Court's review of the ALJ's decision is limited to
whether the decision is in accordance with the law and the
findings supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole. See Penny v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 953, 956 (9th
Cir. 1993). Accord Marsh v. Colvin, 792 F.3d 1170,
1172 (9th Cir. 2015) (“We will set aside a denial of
benefits only if the denial is unsupported by substantial
evidence in the administrative record or is based on legal
error.”) Substantial evidence means more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). If there is
more than one rational interpretation, one of which supports
the ALJ's decision, the Court must uphold that decision.
Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
avers error at steps two, three, and four. She requests
remand for an award of benefits or, in the alternative, for
further administrative proceedings. The Commissioner argues
the ALJ's decision ...