United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
Alice Theiler United States Magistrate Judge.
Steven Garcia proceeds through counsel in his 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, 1962. He has a limited education and
previously worked as a construction worker and wood box
maker. (AR 27-28, 41, 55-56.)
filed an SSI application on October 28, 2013, alleging
disability beginning June 15, 2011. (AR 164.) His application
was denied at the initial level and on reconsideration.
March 25, 2015, ALJ James Sherry held a hearing, taking
testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR
34-62.) At hearing, plaintiff amended his alleged onset date
to the October 28, 2013 application date. (AR 38.) On May 12,
2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not
disabled. (AR 16-29.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on October 4, 2016 (AR 4-8), 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 application date.
At step two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers
from a severe impairment. The ALJ found severe
plaintiff's lumbar degenerative disc disease/stenosis,
hypertension, obesity, migraine headaches, antisocial
personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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
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 medium work with the
following limitations: lift no more than twenty-five pounds
occasionally and twenty pounds frequently; stand/walk and sit
for approximately six hours out of an eight-hour workday; no
climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds; occasionally climb
ramps and stairs and stoop; and avoid concentrated exposure
to extreme cold, excessive vibration, and hazards, such as
moving machinery and unprotected heights. The ALJ also found
plaintiff able to understand and remember simple and detailed
job instructions and perform simple, routine repetitive tasks
and well-learned detailed tasks; maintain attention and
concentration for two-hour intervals to complete tasks
without more than the normally expected brief interruptions;
have brief and superficial interaction with the public and
co-workers; and have superficial interaction with
supervisors. With that assessment, the ALJ found plaintiff
unable to perform his 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 housekeeper, small
products assembler, and production assembler.
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 ...