United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
T. RODGERS, JUDGE
THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment.
ECF Nos. 15, 19. Attorney Dana C. Madsen represents Scott
Alan Naish (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. 7. After reviewing the
administrative record and the briefs filed by the parties,
the Court GRANTS, in part, 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 Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
on July 29, 2015, Tr. 72, and an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) on May 22, 2015, Tr. 60. In the
applications, Plaintiff alleged disability since June 8,
2015, Tr. 171, 178, due to psychotic disorder, social
anxiety, and fibromyalgia, Tr. 196. The applications were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 114-17,
120-25. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Marie Palachuk held a
hearing on September 7, 2016 and heard testimony from
Plaintiff, psychological expert, Donna Mary Veraldi, Ph.D.,
and vocational expert, K. Diane Kramer. Tr. 29-59. The ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on October 14, 2016. Tr.
14-23. The Appeals Council denied review on November 25,
2016. Tr. 1-6. The ALJ's October 14, 2016 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 January
23, 2017. ECF Nos. 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 43 years old at the alleged date of onset provided on his
application. Tr. 178. He completed an associates in paralegal
studies in March of 2005. Tr. 197, 296. His reported work
history includes the jobs of gas station attendant/manager,
auditor, customer care representative, production worker,
coder, and administrative assistant. Tr. 198, 207, 229. He
alleged that a psychotic disorder, social anxiety disorder,
and fibromyalgia limited his ability to work. Tr. 196.
Plaintiff reported that he stopped working on June 8, 2015
due to his conditions and because the work was seasonal.
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, 1229-30 (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.
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, 140-42 (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 1098-99.
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 which the claimant can perform exist in the
national economy. Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193-94 (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),
October 14, 2016, 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 May 22, 2015.F Tr. 16.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: depressive disorder; generalized anxiety
disorder; psychosis, not otherwise ...