United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
THERESA L. FRICKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
has brought this matter for judicial review of
defendant's denial of her applications for 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 finds defendant's
decision to deny benefits should be affirmed.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February 9, 2009, plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits and another one for SSI
benefits, alleging in both applications that she became
disabled beginning August 1, 2008. Dkt. 17, Administrative
Record (AR) 1510. Both applications were denied on initial
administrative review and on reconsideration. Id.
Following a hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ)
applied the Commissioner's five-step sequential
disability evaluation process, finding in a decision dated
December 14, 2011, that plaintiff could perform past relevant
work at step four of that process and therefore that she was
not disabled. AR 14-28.
appealed that decision to this Court, which on July 26, 2013,
reversed the ALJ's decision and remanded the matter for
further administrative proceedings. AR 660-666. On remand,
following a hearing held before the same ALJ, in a decision
dated January 20, 2015, plaintiff again was found to be
capable of performing past relevant work at step four of the
sequential disability evaluation process and therefore that
she was not disabled. AR 637-659.
more plaintiff appealed that decision, and once more the
Court reversed the ALJ's decision and remanded the matter
for further administrative proceedings. AR 1564-1575. On
remand, a hearing was held before a different ALJ, at which
plaintiff appeared and testified, as did a vocational expert.
AR 2008-2065. In a decision dated December 8, 2016, the ALJ
found plaintiff had severe impairments consisting of obesity,
status post cervical spine surgery, lumbar degenerative disc
disease, status post bilateral carpal tunnel surgery, an
affective disorder, and an anxiety disorder. AR 1513.
nevertheless found plaintiff could perform other jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy at
step five of the sequential disability evaluation process,
and therefore that she was not disabled. AR 1510-1529. It
appears the Appeals Council did not assume jurisdiction of
the matter, making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision, which plaintiff appealed
in a complaint filed with this Court on April 6, 2017. Dkt.
3; 20 C.F.R. § 404.981, § 416.1481.
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 determining that plaintiff did not object to the
admission of a 2009 Cooperative Disability Investigations
Unit (“CDIU”) report;
(2) in failing to follow the Court's second remand order
directing the ALJ to re-evaluate the October 2013 opinion of
Sharon A. Osea, M.D., and reweigh all of the medical opinion
(3) in giving little weight to the opinions of examining
psychologist Sylvia Thorpe, Ph.D.;
(4) in failing to reweigh the opinions of examining
psychiatrist Anselm Parlatore, M.D.
(5) in assessing plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(6) in finding plaintiff could perform other jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy.
reasons set forth below, however, the Court disagrees that
the ALJ erred as alleged, and therefore recommends that the
Court affirm the decision to deny benefits.
Court will uphold an ALJ's decision unless: (1) the
decision is based on legal error; or (2) the decision is not
supported by substantial evidence. Revels v.
Berryhill, 874 F.3d 648, 654 (9th Cir. 2017).
Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871
F.3d 664, 674 (9th Cir. 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). If more than
one rational interpretation can be drawn from the evidence,
then the Court must uphold the ALJ's interpretation.
Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007).
That is, “[w]here there is conflicting evidence
sufficient to support either outcome, ” the Court
“must affirm the decision actually made.”
Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984)
(quoting Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th
Cir. 1971)). The Court may not affirm by locating a quantum
of supporting evidence and ignoring the non-supporting
evidence. Orn, 495 F.3d at 630.
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir.
2014). The Court is required to weigh both the evidence that
supports, and evidence that does not support, the ALJ's
conclusion. Id. The Court may not affirm the
decision of the ALJ for a reason upon which the ALJ did not
rely. Id. ...