United States District Court, E.D. Washington
KARL F. BOYER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MOTION AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S SUMMARY JUDGMENT
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. United States District Judge.
Karl Boyer appeals the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ)
denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income
(SSI). Boyer argues that (1) the ALJ improperly discredited
his symptom testimony; and (2) the ALJ improperly weighed and
evaluated certain medical evidence. Because the ALJ gave
specific, clear and convincing reasons supported by
substantial evidence for rejecting Boyer's symptom
testimony, and the ALJ properly weighed and evaluated medical
evidence, relying on specific, legitimate, findings supported
by substantial evidence, the ALJ's decision is affirmed.
Karl Boyer was born in July 1960. AR 54. He lives in Spokane,
Washington, is divorced, and has adult children. AR. 54-55.
He has worked as a musician, audio engineer, and
telemarketer. AR 55-56, 67, 72-75. He has not worked full
time since 2008. AR 203-04. Boyer alleges that he has knee
and shoulder pain, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia,
anxiety, and depression, AR 203, and that these conditions
limit his ability to lift, squat, stand, reach, walk, sit,
kneel, and climb stairs, complete tasks, concentrate,
understand, follow instructions, and use his hands. AR 196.
Boyer applied for Supplemental Security Income on October 2,
2012, alleging an onset date of November 15, 2009. AR 165-
application was denied initially in February 2013, and on
reconsideration in May 2013. AR 109-16, 124-30. Boyer
requested a hearing before an ALJ. Following a hearing held
in May 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Boyer not
disabled and denying his application for benefits on June 25,
2015. AR 21-39. Boyer timely appealed to this Court. ECF No.
“disability” is defined as the “inability
to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of
any medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted
or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not
less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The decision-maker uses a
five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether
a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
one assesses whether the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activities. If he is, benefits are denied. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If he is not, the
decision-maker proceeds to step two.
two assesses whether the claimant has a medically severe
impairment or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If the claimant does
not, the disability claim is denied. If the claimant does,
the evaluation proceeds to the third step.
three compares the claimant's impairment with a number of
listed impairments acknowledged by the Commissioner to be so
severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 404 Subpt. P App. 1, 416.920(d). If
the impairment meets or equals one of the listed impairments,
the claimant is conclusively presumed to be disabled. If the
impairment does not, the evaluation proceeds to the fourth
four assesses whether the impairment prevents the claimant
from performing work he has performed in the past by
examining the claimant's residual functional capacity. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). If the claimant
is able to perform his previous work, he is not disabled. If
the claimant cannot perform this work, the evaluation
proceeds to the fifth step.
five, the final step, assesses whether the claimant can
perform other work in the national economy in view of his
age, education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(f), 416.920(f); see also Bowen v. Yuckert,
482 U.S. 137 (1987). If the claimant can, the disability
claim is denied. If the claimant cannot, the disability claim
burden of proof shifts during this sequential disability
analysis. The claimant has the initial burden of establishing
a prima facie case of entitlement to disability
benefits. Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th
Cir. 1971). The burden then shifts to the Commissioner to
show 1) the claimant can perform other substantial gainful
activity, and 2) that a “significant number of jobs
exist in the national economy, ” which the claimant can
perform. Kail v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1496, 1498 (9th
Cir. 1984). A claimant is disabled only if his impairments
are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his
previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and
work experiences, engage in any other substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B).
one, the ALJ found that Boyer had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since October 2, 2012. AR 26. At step two,
the ALJ found that Boyer had the following severe
impairments: degenerative joint disease of the right knee;
degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and lumbar
spine; ulnar neuropathy of the left elbow; and obesity. AR
26. At step three, the ALJ concluded that Boyer's
impairments did not meet or medically equal any listed
impairment. AR 29-30. At step four, the ALJ found that Boyer
had the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry up
to thirty pounds occasionally and fifteen pounds frequently,
to sit up to eight hours a day, and to stand/walk up to six
hours a day. AR 30. Given those limitations, the ALJ found
that Boyer was ...