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Lloyd Spotted Blanket v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

May 22, 2017

LLOYD SPOTTED BLANKET, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, INTER ALIA

          LONNY R. SUKO Senior United States District Judge

         BEFORE THE COURT are the Plaintiff's Motion For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15) and the Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20).

         JURISDICTION

         Lloyd Spotted Blanket, Plaintiff, applied for Title XVI Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) on November 14, 2011, on which date he was 33 years old. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing which was held on December 12, 2013 before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Moira Ausems. Plaintiff testified at the hearing, as did Vocational Expert (VE) Thomas Polsin. On April 10, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding the Plaintiff not disabled. The Appeals Council denied a request for review of the ALJ's decision, making that decision the Commissioner's final decision subject to judicial review. The Commissioner's final decision is appealable to district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) and §1383(c)(3).

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         The facts have been presented in the administrative transcript, the ALJ's decision, the Plaintiff's and Defendant's briefs, and will only be summarized here. At the time of the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was 35 years old. He has a high school education. He has past relevant work experience as a die casting machine operator, tree planter, cashier checker and construction worker.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The [Commissioner's] determination that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence...." Delgado v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 570, 572 (9th Cir. 1983). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119 n.10 (9th Cir. 1975), but less than a preponderance. McAllister v. Sullivan, 888 F.2d 599, 601-602 (9th Cir. 1989); Desrosiers v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988). "It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420 (1971). "[S]uch inferences and conclusions as the [Commissioner] may reasonably draw from the evidence" will also be upheld. Beane v. Richardson, 457 F.2d 758, 759 (9th Cir. 1972); Mark v. Celebrezze, 348 F.2d 289, 293 (9th Cir. 1965). On review, the court considers the record as a whole, not just the evidence supporting the decision of the Commissioner. Weetman v. Sullivan, 877 F.2d 20, 22 (9th Cir. 1989); Thompson v. Schweiker, 665 F.2d 936, 939 (9th Cir. 1982).

         It is the role of the trier of fact, not this court to resolve conflicts in evidence. Richardson, 402 U.S. at 400. If evidence supports more than one rational interpretation, the court must uphold the decision of the ALJ. Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984).

         A decision supported by substantial evidence will still be set aside if the proper legal standards were not applied in weighing the evidence and making the decision. Brawner v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 839 F.2d 432, 433 (9th Cir. 1987).

         ISSUES

         Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred in: 1) finding the Plaintiff not credible; 2) not offering specific and legitimate reasons for rejecting the opinions of Elizabeth Topsky, M.D., regarding Plaintiff's limitations; 3) not offering specific and germane reasons for rejecting the opinions of Margaret Koepping, ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner), regarding Plaintiff's limitations; and 4) failing to include all of Plaintiff's limitations in the RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) determination.

         DISCUSSION

         SEQUENTIAL ...


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