United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
T. RODGERS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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).
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.
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 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.
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).
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).
March 27, 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 September 5, 2011, the alleged onset
date. Tr. 15.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease, PTSD, and depression.
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 found that from September 5, 2011 through May
21, 2014, Plaintiff could perform a range ...