United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
Alice Theiler United States Magistrate Judge.
Claniah Harts 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 REMANDED for further proceedings.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1970. She completed some college-level
courses and obtained a certificate, but has no past relevant
work. (AR 38, 55-57.)
protectively filed an application for SSI in November 2013,
alleging disability beginning June 19, 2007. (AR 244.) Her
application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
12, 2015, ALJ Cheri Filion held a hearing, taking testimony
from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR 46-95.) The
ALJ also held a second hearing on October 20, 2015, taking
testimony from plaintiff, a medical expert, and a VE. (AR
97-111.) On December 21, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision
finding plaintiff not disabled since November 22, 2013, the
protective filing date. (AR 26-39.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on July 24, 2017 (AR 1-6), making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to
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 alleged onset date.
At step two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers
from a severe impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's
osteoarthritis, asthma, anxiety disorder, affective disorder,
and somatoform disorder severe. He found other impairments
either not severe or not medically determinable. 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 impairment.
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 some
additional limitations. Plaintiff can occasionally lift and
carry twenty pounds and frequently lift and carry ten pounds;
stand and/or walk and sit for six hours in an eight-hour
workday; frequently crouch, kneel, or stoop and occasionally
crawl and climb ramps and stairs; never climb ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds; and must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme
cold, extreme heat, vibrations, and hazards, and even
moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases and poor
ventilation. Plaintiff can recall simple and detailed
instructions and perform at least simple, repetitive tasks,
and may benefit from additional time to adjust to workplace
changes. Plaintiff had no past relevant work to consider at
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 VE
assistance, the ALJ found plaintiff capable of performing
other jobs, such as work as a marker, hotel/motel
housekeeper, and semiconductor dye loader.
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 ...