United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT, INTER ALIA
R. SUKO SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT are the Plaintiff's Motion For Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 13) and the Defendant's Motion For
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14).
Reyad Dyoke, Plaintiff, applied for Title II Social Security
Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) and for Title XVI
Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) on August 20,
2013. The applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing which
was held on January 14, 2016, before Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) R.J. Payne. Medical experts Margaret Moore, Ph.D., and
Arthur Lorber, M.D., testified at that hearing. A
supplemental hearing was held on May 3, 2016, at which
Plaintiff testified, as did Vocational Expert (VE) Sharon
Welter. On June 1, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding
the Plaintiff not disabled. The Appeals Council denied a
request for review of the ALJ's decision, making that
decision the Commissioner's final decision subject to
judicial review. The Commissioner's final decision is
appealable to district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g) and §1383(c)(3).
facts have been presented in the administrative transcript,
the ALJ's decision, the Plaintiff's and
Defendant's briefs, and will only be summarized here.
Plaintiff has an 8th grade education and past
relevant work experience as a retail store manager, sales
clerk and payroll clerk. She alleges disability since July 1,
2014, on which date she was 46 years old.
[Commissioner's] determination that a claimant is not
disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported
by substantial evidence...." Delgado v.
Heckler, 722 F.2d 570, 572 (9th Cir. 1983). Substantial
evidence is more than a mere scintilla, Sorenson v.
Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119 n.10 (9th Cir. 1975),
but less than a preponderance. McAlli ster v.
Sullivan, 888 F.2d 599, 601-602 (9th Cir. 1989);
Desrosiers v. Secretary of Health and Human
Services, 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988). "It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion."
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420 (1971). "[S]uch inferences and conclusions as the
[Commissioner] may reasonably draw from the evidence"
will also be upheld. Beane v. Richardson, 457 F.2d
758, 759 (9th Cir. 1972); Mark v. Celebrezze, 348
F.2d 289, 293 (9th Cir. 1965). On review, the court considers
the record as a whole, not just the evidence supporting the
decision of the Commissioner. Weetman v. Sullivan,
877 F.2d 20, 22 (9th Cir. 1989); Thompson v.
Schweiker, 665 F.2d 936, 939 (9th Cir. 1982).
the role of the trier of fact, not this court to resolve
conflicts in evidence. Ri chardson, 402 U.S. at 400.
If evidence supports more than one rational interpretation,
the court must uphold the decision of the ALJ. Allen v.
Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984).
decision supported by substantial evidence will still be set
aside if the proper legal standards were not applied in
weighing the evidence and making the decision. Brawner v.
Secretary of Health and Human Services, 839 F.2d 432,
433 (9th Cir. 1987).
argues the ALJ erred in: 1) failing to find that Plaintiff
had additional “severe” impairments; 2) rejecting
the opinions of her treating physician, Bethany Lynn, M.D.,
and examining psychologist, John Arnold, Ph.D.; 3) failing to
provide specific, clear and convincing reasons for
discounting Plaintiff's testimony regarding her symptoms
and limitations; 4) failing to provide specific and germane
reasons for rejecting a lay witness statement; and 5) failing
to provide a hypothetical to the VE which included all of
Plaintiff's physical and mental limitations.
Social Security Act defines "disability" 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) and § 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act also provides
that a claimant shall be determined to be under a disability
only if her impairments are of such severity that the
claimant is not only unable to do her previous work but
cannot, considering her age, education and work experiences,
engage in any other substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy. Id.
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 and 416.920;
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-42, 107 S.Ct.
2287 (1987). Step one determines if she is engaged in
substantial gainful activities. If she is, benefits are
denied. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i) and
416.920(a)(4)(i). If she is not, the decision-maker proceeds
to step two, which determines whether the claimant has a
medically severe impairment or combination of impairments. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii) and 416.920(a)(4)(ii).
If the claimant does not have a severe impairment or
combination of impairments, the disability claim is denied.
If the impairment is severe, the evaluation proceeds to the
third step, which 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(a)(4)(iii)
and 416.920(a)(4)(iii); 20 C.F.R. § 404 Subpart P, App.
1. If the impairment meets or equals one of the listed
impairments, the claimant is conclusively presumed to be
disabled. If the impairment is not one conclusively presumed
to be disabling, the evaluation proceeds to the fourth step
which determines whether the impairment prevents the claimant
from performing work she has performed in the past. If the
claimant is able to perform her previous work, she is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv) and
416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant cannot perform this work,
the fifth and final step in the process determines whether
she is able to perform other work in the national economy in
view of her age, education and work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v) and 416.920(a)(4)(v).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
a prima facie case of entitlement to disability benefits.
Rhi nehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th Cir.
1971). The initial burden is met once a claimant establishes
that a physical or mental impairment prevents her from
engaging in her previous occupation. The burden then shifts
to the Commissioner to show (1) that the claimant can perform
other substantial gainful activity and (2) that a
"significant number of jobs exist in the national
economy" which claimant can perform. Kail v.
Heckler, 722 F.2d 1496, 1498 (9th Cir. 1984).