United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MICHAEL A. JEFFRIES, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION
AND DISMISSING THE CASE WITH PREJUDICE
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
A. Jeffries seeks review of the denial of his application for
Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance
Benefits. Mr. Jeffries contends the ALJ erred in rejecting
medical opinions indicating standing, sitting and stooping
limitations, and in determining how his need to sit or stand
at will would affect the occupational base. Dkt.
As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the
Commissioner's final decision and
DISMISSES the case with prejudice.
Jeffries is currently 49 years old, has at least a high
school education, and has worked as a compliance director.
Tr. 28. On May 29, 2013, Mr. Jeffries applied for benefits,
alleging disability as of November 30, 2010. Tr. 17. His
applications were denied initially and on reconsideration.
Id. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on October 22,
2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Mr. Jeffries not
disabled. Tr. 17-30.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Mr. Jeffries has not worked since
the alleged onset date.
Step two: He has the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease, major depressive
disorder, general anxiety disorder.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Mr. Jeffries
can stand six hours, sit six hours, and “needs a
sit/stand option at will meaning sitting no more than 30 to
45 minutes at one time.” Tr. 21. He can lift, carry,
push and pull 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds
frequently. He can occasionally climb ramps and stairs,
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He should not climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds, and should avoid concentrated
exposure to extreme conditions and hazards. He can perform
simple, routine tasks and more detailed or complex tasks at a
moderate pace. He should only have occasional brief,
superficial interactions with the general public and
coworkers. He can accept supervision and minimal changes to
the work setting.
Step four: Mr. Jeffries cannot perform past
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that he can
perform, Mr. Jeffries is not disabled.
Tr. 19-28. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request
for review, making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1.
February 2014, based on a diagnosis of a severe spine
disorder, nonexamining physician Robert Bernardez-Fu, M.D.,
opined that Mr. Jeffries' “low back”
impairments would limit him to standing and/or walking for a
total of two hours out of an 8-hour work day. Tr. 172,
“may reject the opinion of a non-examining physician by
reference to specific evidence in the medical record.”
Sousa v. Callahan, 143 F.3d 1240, 1244 (9th Cir.
1998) (citing Gomez v. Chater, 74 F.3d 967, 972 (9th
Cir. 1996)). All of the determinative findings by the ALJ
must be supported by substantial evidence. See Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998).
“Substantial evidence” is more than a scintilla,
less than a preponderance, and is “‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989) (quoting
Davis v. Heckler, 868 F.2d 323, 326 (9th Cir. 1989)).
While the Court is required to examine the record as a whole,
it may neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its