United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
W. Christel, United States Magistrate Judge.
Michael Broadnax filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), for judicial review of Defendant's denial
of Plaintiff's application for supplemental security
income (“SSI”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 and Local Rule MJR
13, the parties have consented to have this matter heard by
the undersigned Magistrate Judge. See Dkt. 5.
considering the record, the Court concludes the ALJ properly
analyzed Plaintiff's subjective symptom testimony. As the
ALJ's decision finding Plaintiff not disabled is
supported by substantial evidence, the undersigned affirms
the Commissioner's decision pursuant to sentence four of
42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI
alleging disability as of June 15, 2016. See Dkt. 7,
Administrative Record (“AR”) 160-68. The
application was denied upon initial administrative review and
on reconsideration. See AR 67-78, 79, 92-95. A
hearing was held before ALJ M.J. Adams on September 27, 2017.
See AR 30-66. In a decision dated October 6, 2017,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff to be not disabled. See
AR 12-29. Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's
decision was denied by the Appeals Council, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
See AR 1-6; 20 C.F.R. § 404.981, §
Plaintiff's Opening Brief, Plaintiff maintains the ALJ
erred by improperly evaluating Plaintiff's subjective
symptom testimony. Dkt. 14 at 1.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the
ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported
by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss
v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005)
(citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Whether the ALJ erred in evaluating Plaintiff's
subjective symptom testimony.
testified he suffers from epileptic seizures, and the ALJ
discredited his allegations of disabling symptoms. AR 21-22.
Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred by failing to properly
analyze Plaintiff's compliance with his medication regime
and failing to properly consider the impact of the side
effects of Plaintiff's medications on his ability to
perform work functions. Dkt. 14 at 1.
reject a claimant's subjective complaints, the ALJ must
provide “specific, cogent reasons for the
disbelief.” Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 834
(9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). The ALJ “must
identify what testimony is not credible and what evidence
undermines the claimant's complaints.”
Id.; Dodrill v. Shalala, 12 F.3d 915, 918
(9th Cir. 1993). Unless affirmative evidence shows the
claimant is malingering, the ALJ's reasons for rejecting
the claimant's testimony must be “clear and
convincing.” Lester, 81 F.2d at 834. Questions
of credibility are solely within the control of the ALJ.
Sample v. Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir.
1982). The Court should not “second-guess” this
credibility determination. Allen v. Heckler, 749
F.2d 577, 580 (9th Cir. 1984). In addition, the Court may not
reverse a credibility determination where the determination
is based on contradictory or ambiguous evidence. Id.
hearing, Plaintiff testified he experiences seizures and has
problems working due to difficulties with bending down,
burning sensations in his legs, using his hands, holding
things, walking, breathing, and sitting. AR 41-42, 44-46.
Plaintiff testified he cannot carry more than ten pounds,
walk for more than 15 to 20 minutes, stand for more than 15
minutes, or sit for more than 30 minutes. AR 45-46. Plaintiff
testified he would be unable to work once or twice per week.
AR 45-46, 52, Plaintiff testified he has approximately 18
seizures per month, and he would be unable to work for three
days following a seizure. AR 47-49. Plaintiff testified his
anti-seizure medication, Phenobarbital, makes him aggressive
and drowsy. AR 51.
found Plaintiff's allegations were not fully supported
because they are inconsistent with the medical evidence and
other evidence in the record. AR 21. Specifically, the ALJ
found: (1) the “minimal and mild physical examination
findings found throughout the record are inconsistent with
the claimant's allegations of extremely limiting physical
conditions[;]” (2) Plaintiff's “minimal
engagement with treatment is inconsistent with the
allegations of extremely limiting conditions and
symptoms[;]” and (3) despite Plaintiff's
“allegations he experiences side effects from his
medications, including drowsiness, there is evidence in the
record the claimant reported no fatigue during recent medical
encounters.” AR 21-22. Plaintiff only contends the
ALJ's second and third reasons were improper, arguing the
ALJ failed to consider whether Plaintiff had valid ...