United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT, INTER ALIA
R. SUKO Senior United States District Judge
THE COURT are the Plaintiff's Motion For Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 14) and the Defendant's Motion For
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15).
Rae Woodall, Plaintiff, applied for Title II Disability
Insurance benefits (DIB) and Title XVI Supplemental Security
Income benefits (SSI) on May 15, 2012. The applications were
denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff timely
requested a hearing which was held on September 5, 2014
before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Donna Walker. Plaintiff
testified at the hearing, as did Vocational Expert (VE) K.
Diane Kramer. On November 3, 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).
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 32
years old. She has past relevant work experience as a fast
food worker, cashier, parts delivery driver, food delivery
driver, and server. Plaintiff alleges disability since June
28, 2010, on which date she was 28 years old. Plaintiff's
date last insured for Title II DIB benefits was December 31,
[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).
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).
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).
argues the ALJ erred in: 1) improperly weighing the medical
opinions; and 2) improperly rejecting Plaintiff's
testimony about her symptoms.
Social Security Act defines "disability" as the
"inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity
by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which can be expected to result in death or which
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than twelve months." 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act also provides that a
claimant shall be determined to be under a disability only if
her impairments are of such severity that the claimant is not
only unable to do her previous work but cannot, considering
her age, education and work experiences, engage in any other
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 and 416.920;
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-42, 107 S.Ct.
2287 (1987). Step one determines if she is engaged in
substantial gainful activities. If she is, benefits are
denied. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i) and
416.920(a)(4)(i). If she is not, the decision-maker proceeds
to step two, which determines whether the claimant has a
medically severe impairment or combination of impairments. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii) and 416.920(a)(4)(ii).
If the claimant does not have a severe impairment or
combination of impairments, the disability claim is denied.
If the impairment is severe, the evaluation proceeds to the
third step, which compares the claimant's impairment with
a number of listed impairments acknowledged by the
Commissioner to be so severe as to preclude substantial
gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii)
and 416.920(a)(4)(iii); 20 C.F.R. § 404 Subpart P, App.
1. If the impairment meets or equals one of the listed
impairments, the claimant is conclusively presumed to be
disabled. If the impairment is not one conclusively presumed
to be disabling, the evaluation proceeds to the fourth step
which determines whether the impairment prevents the claimant
from performing work she has performed in the past. If the
claimant is able to perform her previous work, she is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv) and
416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant cannot perform this work,
the fifth and final step in the process determines whether
she is able to perform other work in the national economy in
view of her age, education and work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404, 1520(a)(4)(v) and 416.920(a)(4)(v).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
a prima facie case of entitlement to disability benefits.
Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th Cir.
1971). The initial burden is met once a claimant establishes
that a physical or mental impairment prevents her from
engaging in her previous occupation. The burden then shifts
to the Commissioner to show (1) that the claimant can perform
other substantial gainful activity and (2) that a
"significant number of jobs exist in the national
economy" which claimant can perform. Kail v.
Heckler, 722 F.2d 1496, 1498 (9th Cir. 1984).
found the following: 1) Plaintiff has “severe”
medical impairments consisting of seizure disorder,
headaches, depression, anxiety, and personality disorder; 2)
Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or equals any of the impairments
listed in 20 C.F.R. § 404 Subpart P, App. 1; 3)
Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, but
with the following non-exertional limitations: she can never
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, or be exposed to hazardous
machinery or heights; should avoid concentrated exposure to
noises, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation; has
the ability to perform simple, repetitive tasks with
superficial public contact working in proximity to, but not
close cooperation, with others; 4) Plaintiff's RFC does
allows her to perform her past relevant work as a fast ...