United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
ALICE THEILER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tammy Kraft proceeds through counsel in her appeal of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (Commissioner). The Commissioner denied
plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). Having considered the ALJ's decision, the
administrative record (AR), and all memoranda of record, this
matter is AFFIRMED.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1963. Plaintiff has a GED and previously
worked as a general office clerk, scorekeeper, cutting
machine tender, pizza deliverer, and order clerk, food and
beverage. (AR 211, 864.)
protectively filed an application for SSI on November 29,
2011, alleging disability beginning February 27, 2009. (AR
184.) The period under consideration begins on November 29,
2010, one year prior to the protective filing date. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.335, 416.912(d). (See also AR 850.)
The application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
Wayne Araki held a hearing on June 4, 2013, taking testimony
from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR 29-64.) On
July 24, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff
not disabled. (AR 12-22.) After the Appeals Council denied
review (AR 2-6), plaintiff appealed to this Court. In an
August 13, 2015 decision, the Court remanded for further
administrative proceedings. (AR 947-57.)
held a second hearing on June 28, 2016, taking testimony from
plaintiff and a VE (AR 876-919), and updated the record
(see AR 850-51). In a decision dated September 30,
2016, the ALJ again found plaintiff not disabled through the
date of the decision. (AR 850-67.)
timely appealed and the Appeals Council found no basis for
changing the ALJ's decision. (AR 838-41.) The ALJ's
September 2016 decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner and plaintiff appealed to this Court. (AR 839);
20 C.F.R. § 416.1484.
Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2000).
At step one, it must be determined whether the claimant is
gainfully employed. The ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since the application date.
At step two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers
from a severe impairment. The ALJ found the following
impairments severe: organic mental disorders; affective
disorder/depression; anxiety disorder/ post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) v. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD); degenerative disc disease; peripheral
neuropathy/carpal tunnel syndrome; and migraines/ headaches.
Step three asks whether a claimant's impairments meet or
equal a listed impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or equal the criteria of a listed
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listing,
the Commissioner must assess residual functional capacity
(RFC) and determine at step four whether the claimant has
demonstrated an inability to perform past relevant work. The
ALJ found plaintiff able to perform light work, with the
following limitations: able to remember and understand
instructions for tasks generally required by occupations with
a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) of 1-2; able to carry
out instructions for tasks generally required by occupations
with an SVP of 1-2; can have occasional face-to-face
interactions with the general public, with no restrictions on
over the phone interaction; can have occasional interactions
with co-workers and supervisors; can lift and/or carry twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; can stand
and/or walk about six hours per day; can sit about six hours
per day; can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; can
occasionally climb stairs and ramps; can occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; and can have
occasional exposure to hazards and vibrations. With that
assessment, the ALJ found plaintiff unable to perform her
past relevant work.
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform past relevant
work, or has no past relevant work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate at step five that the claimant
retains the capacity to make an adjustment to work that
exists in significant levels in the national economy. With
the assistance of the VE, the ALJ found plaintiff capable of
performing other jobs, such as work as a production line
solderer, electrical accessories assembler, semiconductor
wafer breaker, semiconductor die loader, and order clerk,
food and beverage. The ALJ also found that, with the addition
of a limitation to frequent bilateral fingering/handling,
plaintiff would still be able to perform the jobs of
production line solderer and electrical accessories
assembler, and could also perform the jobs of circuit board
assembler and document preparer. The ALJ observed that,
except for a document preparer, all of the occupations
identified are performed in a factory setting and do not
require any public contact or interaction, that the document
preparer job is performed in an office setting and requires
very little face-to-face contact, and found that, even
excluding the document preparer job, there are still a
significant number of jobs plaintiff could perform.
Court's review of the ALJ's decision is limited to
whether the decision is in accordance with the law and the
findings supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole. See Penny v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 953, 956 (9th
Cir. 1993). Accord Marsh v. Colvin, 792 F.3d 1170,
1172 (9th Cir. 2015) (“We will set aside a denial of
benefits only if the denial is unsupported by substantial
evidence in the administrative record or is based on legal
error.”) Substantial evidence means more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it means 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). If there is
more than one rational interpretation, one of which supports
the ALJ's decision, the Court must uphold that decision.
Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
argues the ALJ erred by failing to properly consider the
severity of her migraine headaches. She challenges the
ALJ's reasons for rejecting her migraine-related symptom
testimony and the RFC assessed. Plaintiff requests remand to
the Commissioner for a new hearing with instructions to
correct the legal errors and render a new decision. The
Commissioner argues the ALJ's decision has the support of
substantial evidence and should be affirmed.