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Thomas v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 30, 2017

TRINA THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, INTER ALIA

          LONNY R. SUKO, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT are the Plaintiff's Motion For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 16) and the Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20).

         JURISDICTION

         Trina Thomas, Plaintiff, applied for Title XVI Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) on January 16, 2013. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing which was held on April 7, 2014, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) James W. Sherry. Plaintiff testified at the hearing, as did Vocational Expert (VE) Trevor Duncan. On June 16, 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).

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         The 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 her most recent application for SSI benefits, Plaintiff was 29 years old, and at the time of the administrative hearing, she was 30 years old. She has a seventh grade education and past relevant work experience as a server/waitress.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The [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).

         It is 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).

         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. 1987).

         ISSUES

         Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred in: 1) failing to fully and fairly develop the record; 2) rejecting Plaintiff's symptom testimony; and 3) rejecting the request to reopen Plaintiff's prior application for SSI benefits.

         DISCUSSION

         SEQUENTIAL ...


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