United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
T. RODGERS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment.
ECF No. 15, 16. Attorney Rosemary B. Schurman represents
Richard John Scoville (Plaintiff); Special Assistant United
States Attorney Jennifer A. Kenney represents the
Commissioner of Social Security (Defendant). The parties have
consented to proceed before a magistrate judge. ECF No. 6.
After reviewing the administrative record and briefs filed by
the parties, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
filed applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) on May 6, 2012, Tr. 216,
alleging disability since October 31, 2010, Tr. 197-202, due
to hepatitis C, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever with
inflammation around the heart, and high blood pressure, Tr.
231. The applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Tr. 103-111. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Donna L. Walker held a hearing on November 26, 2014 and heard
testimony from Plaintiff, medical expert Minh Vu, M.D., and
vocational expert Daniel McKinney. Tr. 48-67. At the hearing,
Plaintiff, through his attorney, amended his onset date to
February 15, 2012. Tr. 51. The ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision on January 9, 2015. Tr. 12-22. The Appeals Council
denied review on April 28, 2016. Tr. 1-6. The ALJ's
January 9, 2015 decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner, which is appealable to the district court
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff filed this
action for judicial review on May 30, 2016. ECF No. 1, 4.
facts of the case are set forth in the administrative hearing
transcript, the ALJ's decision, and the briefs of the
parties. They are only briefly summarized here.
was 55 years old at the amended date of onset. Tr. 197.
Plaintiff completed four or more years of college in 1992.
Tr. 232. When applying for benefits, he reported that he had
stopped working as of October 31, 2010. Tr. 231. His work
history included being a painter and working with log
furniture. Tr. 232, 257-260. In August of 2012, Brian
LaSalle, ARNP stated that Plaintiff had a history of working
in the construction trades and was presently working as a
concrete finisher. Tr. 302. In June of 2013, Plaintiff
reported to the Spokane Foot Clinic that he had been getting
a rental property ready and had been on his feet for long
hours. Tr. 382. At the hearing, Plaintiff testified that he
had been paid “under the table” for most of his
work as an adult. Tr. 61.
is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995). The Court reviews the ALJ's determinations of law
de novo, deferring to a reasonable interpretation of the
statutes. McNatt v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1084, 1087 (9th
Cir. 2000). The decision of the ALJ may be reversed only if
it is not supported by substantial evidence or if it is based
on legal error. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094,
1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is defined as
being more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance. Id. at 1098. Put another way,
substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971). If the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, the court may not substitute its
judgment for that of the ALJ. Tackett, 180 F.3d at
1097. If substantial evidence supports the administrative
findings, or if conflicting evidence supports a finding of
either disability or non-disability, the ALJ's
determination is conclusive. Sprague v. Bowen, 812
F.2d 1226, 1229-1230 (9th Cir. 1987). Nevertheless, a
decision supported by substantial evidence will 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. 1988).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a);
see Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-142 (1987).
In steps one through four, the burden of proof rests upon the
claimant to establish a prima facie case of entitlement to
disability benefits. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-1099.
This burden is met once the claimant establishes that
physical or mental impairments prevent him from engaging in
his previous occupations. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). If the claimant cannot do his
past relevant work, the ALJ proceeds to step five, and the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that (1) the
claimant can make an adjustment to other work, and (2)
specific jobs exist in the national economy which the
claimant can perform. Batson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193-1194 (9th Cir.
2004). If the claimant cannot make an adjustment to other
work in the national economy, a finding of
“disabled” is made. 20 C.F.R. §§
January 9, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff
was not disabled as defined in the Social Security Act.
one, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since February 15, 2012, the amended date of
onset. Tr. 14.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: hepatitis C; liver cirrhosis; and
polyarthralgias. Tr. 14.
three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments. Tr. 16.
four, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff's residual function
capacity and determined he could perform a full range of
medium work, stating “[h]e can lift and/or carry up to
50 pounds occasionally (1/3 of the workday) and 25 pounds
frequently (2/3 of the workday). He can stand and/or walk up
to 6 hours and sit up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday.”
Tr. 17. The ALJ identified Plaintiff's past relevant work
as furniture ...