United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
TAYLOR L.M. WYLLIE, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT’S DECISION TO DENY
Theresa L. Fricke, United States Magistrate Judge.
L.M. Wyllie has brought this matter for judicial review of
defendant’s denial of her applications for
child’s disability insurance and supplemental security
income (SSI) benefits. The parties have consented to have
this matter heard by the undersigned Magistrate Judge. 28
U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73;
Local Rule MJR 13. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
affirms the Commissioner’s decision denying benefits.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Wyllie protectively applied for SSI on July 22, 2013. Dkt.
11, Administrative Record (“AR”) 13. On May 5,
2014, she applied for child’s insurance benefits based
on disability. Id. Both applications alleged
disability beginning July 11, 1995. Id. Ms. Wyllie
later amended this alleged onset date to October 18, 2011. AR
38-39. Both applications were denied on initial
administrative review and on reconsideration. AR 13.
A hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
on February 11, 2015. AR 34-75. Ms. Wyllie, Mr. James
Dumesnil, and a vocational expert appeared and testified. The
ALJ found that the relevant date for determining disability
was July 10, 2013, and neither party challenges this
determination. AR 13.
written decision on September 25, 2015, the ALJ found that
Ms. Wyllie could perform jobs existing in significant numbers
in the national economy, and therefore that she was not
disabled. AR 13-28. The Appeals Council denied Ms.
Wyllie’s request for review on January 25, 2017, making
the ALJ’s decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. AR 1. Ms. Wyllie appealed that decision in a
complaint filed with this Court on March 2, 2017. Dkt. 3; 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
Wyllie seeks reversal of the ALJ’s decision and remand
for an award of benefits, or in the alternative for further
administrative proceedings, arguing the ALJ erred:
(1) in evaluating the medical evidence in the record;
(2) in discounting Ms. Wyllie’s credibility;
(3) in rejecting lay witness evidence;
(4) in assessing Ms. Wyllie’s residual functional
(5) in finding Ms. Wyllie could perform other jobs existing
in significant numbers in the national economy.
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the ALJ did not
err as Ms. Wyllie alleges. Accordingly, the Court affirms the
decision to deny benefits.
Commissioner employs a five-step “sequential evaluation
process” to determine whether a claimant is disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.520, 416.920. If the ALJ finds the
claimant disabled or not disabled at any particular step, the
ALJ makes the disability determination at that step and the
sequential evaluation process ends. See id. At issue
here is the ALJ’s weighing of different pieces of
medical and opinion evidence, her discounting of Ms.
Wyllie’s testimony, her weighing of lay testimony, and
her resulting assessment of Ms. Wyllie’s RFC and
conclusion that she can perform jobs in the national economy.
Court affirms an ALJ’s determination that a claimant is
not disabled if the ALJ applied “proper legal
standards” in weighing the evidence and making the
determination and if “substantial evidence in the
record as a whole supports” that determination.
Hoffman v. Heckler, 785 F.2d 1423, 1425 (9th Cir.
1986). Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.’” Trevizo v.
Berryhill, No. 15-16277, 2017 WL 4053751, at *6 (9th
Cir. Sept. 14, 2017) (quoting Desrosiers v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir.
1988)). This requires “‘more than a mere
scintilla,’” though “‘less than a
preponderance’” of the evidence. Id.
(quoting Desrosiers, 846 F.2d at 576).
Court will thus uphold the ALJ’s findings if
“inferences reasonably drawn from the record”
support them. Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). If more
than one rational interpretation can be drawn from the
evidence, then this Court must uphold the ALJ’s
interpretation. Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579
(9th Cir. 1984).
The ALJ’s Evaluation of the Medical and Other
is responsible for determining credibility and resolving
ambiguities and conflicts in the medical evidence.
Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 722 (9th Cir.
1998). Where the evidence is inconclusive,
“‘questions of credibility and resolution of
conflicts are functions solely of the [ALJ]’” and
this Court will uphold those conclusions. Sample v.
Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir. 1982) (quoting
Waters v. Gardner, 452 F.2d 855, 858 n.7 (9th Cir.
1971)); Morgan v. Comm’r of the Soc. Sec.
Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 601 (9th Cir. 1999). As part of
this discretion, the ALJ determines whether inconsistencies
in the evidence “are material (or are in fact
inconsistencies at all) and whether certain factors are
relevant” in deciding how to weigh medical opinions.
Morgan, 169 F.3d at 603.
must support his or her findings with “specific, cogent
reasons.” Reddick, 157 F.3d at 725. To do so,
the ALJ sets out “a detailed and thorough summary of
the facts and conflicting clinical evidence,”
interprets that evidence, and makes findings. Id.
The ALJ does not need to discuss all the evidence the parties
present but must explain the rejection of “significant
probative evidence.” Vincent on Behalf of Vincent
v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir. 1984)
(citation omitted). The ALJ may draw inferences
“logically flowing from the evidence.”
Sample, 694 F.2d at ...