United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
ALICE THEILER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Sabrina Wei proceeds through counsel in her appeal of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (Commissioner). The Commissioner denied
plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance
Benefits (DIB) and 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, this matter is AFFIRMED.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1958. She completed one year of college and
previously worked as a gambling dealer and cashier. (AR 43,
filed SSI and DIB applications in June 2013, alleging
disability beginning October 22, 2012. (AR 190-208.) She
remained insured for DIB through December 31, 2012 and,
therefore, was required to establish disability on or prior
to that “date last insured” (DLI) to receive DIB.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.131, 404.321.
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on
March 25, 2015, ALJ Kimberly Boyce held a hearing, taking
testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert. (AR 23-51.)
On June 18, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff
not disabled from October 22, 2012 through the date of the
decision. (AR 10-17.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on August 29, 2016 (AR 1-3), 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 did not
have a medically determinable impairment prior to her DLI,
but had severe impairments of cervical spine degenerative
disc disease and left lateral epicondylitis after her DLI.
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 light work with the
following limitations: can stand and walk for about six hours
and sit for more than six hours in an eight-hour day with
normal breaks; can lift, carry, push, and pull within light
exertional limits, except lifting with the non-dominant left
upper extremity is limited to occasional; never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, frequently stoop and kneel, and
occasionally crawl; pending treatment, can frequently reach,
handle, and finger with the left upper extremity; and no
concentrated exposure to vibration and/or hazards. With that
assessment, the ALJ found plaintiff able to perform her past
relevant work as a cashier.
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. Having
found plaintiff not disabled at step four, the ALJ did not
proceed to step five. The ALJ concluded plaintiff had not
been under a disability from her alleged onset date through
the date of the decision.
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 ...