Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mundall v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 23, 2017




         BEFORE THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment. ECF No. 12, 13. Attorney Rosemary B. Schurman represents Lisa Evelyn Mundall (Plaintiff); Special Assistant United States Attorney Daphne Banay represents the Commissioner of Social Security (Defendant). The parties have consented to proceed before a magistrate judge. ECF No. 4. After reviewing the administrative record and the briefs filed by the parties, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment; DENIES Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; and REMANDS the matter to the Commissioner for additional proceedings pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).


         Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) on January 11, 2013, Tr. 194, alleging disability since September 5, 2011, Tr. 166- 167, due to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic lumbar pain, and chronic S.I. pain. Tr. 198. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 107-109, 111-112. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Jesse K. Shumway held a hearing on March 10, 2015 and heard testimony from Plaintiff, vocational expert, Daniel McKinney, and medical expert, Anthony Francis, M.D. Tr. 40-82. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 27, 2015. Tr. 13-29. The Appeals Council denied review on July 14, 2016. Tr. 1-7. The ALJ's March 27, 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 August 29, 2016. ECF No. 1.


         The 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.

         Plaintiff was 43 years old at the alleged date of onset. Tr. 175. Plaintiff completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing in 1990. Tr. 199, 281. Plaintiff worked as an attendant counselor caring for the developmentally disabled from 1990 through her alleged date of onset. Tr. 199, 281. Plaintiff reported that she was injured on September 5, 2011 and returned to work on October 26, 2011 for only two hours before she was assaulted by a patient. Tr. 199, 282, 292. She reported that she stopped working due to her conditions. Tr. 198.


         The ALJ 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 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. 1988).


         The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether a person is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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 her from engaging in her previous occupations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). If the claimant cannot do her 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. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v).


         On March 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the Social Security Act.

         At step one, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 5, 2011, the alleged onset date. Tr. 15.

         At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, PTSD, and depression. Tr. 15.

         At step 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.

         At step four, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff's residual function capacity and found that from September 5, 2011 through May 21, 2014, Plaintiff could perform a range ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.