United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
H. WHALEY SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary
judgment, ECF Nos. 11, 12. Plaintiff brings this action
seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
of the Commissioner's final decision, which denied his
application for Supplemental Security Income under Title XVI
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C §§ 1381-1383F.
After reviewing the administrative record and briefs filed by
the parties, the Court is now fully informed. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
filed his application for supplemental security income on
March 26, 2013. AR 202-06. His initial alleged onset date was
January 1, 1972. AR 202. He amended it to March 26, 2013, the
date of filing his application. AR 23, 54. His application
was initially denied on October 3, 2013, AR 103-20, and on
reconsideration on December 5, 2013, AR 121-38.
Law Judge (“ALJ”) Caroline Siderius held a
hearing on October 15, 2015, in Spokane, Washington. AR
51-84. On December 31, 2015, ALJ Siderius issued a decision
finding Plaintiff ineligible for disability benefits. AR
23-40. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review on August 17, 2017, AR 1-7, making the ALJ's
ruling the “final decision” of the Commissioner.
to his current application, Plaintiff filed an application
for benefits on October 15, 2007, which was denied by the ALJ
on August 10, 2009. AR 23. The Appeals Council upheld the
decision on February 11, 2011. Id. ALJ Siderius
found res judicata applied to that decision and that
there was no cause to reopen that claim. Id.
timely filed the present action challenging the denial of
benefits on October 13, 2017. ECF No. 3. Accordingly, his
claims are properly before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
Sequential Evaluation Process
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), 1382c(a)(3)(A). A claimant shall
be determined to be under a disability only if the
claimant's impairments are of such severity that the
claimant is not only unable to do his previous work, but
cannot, considering claimant's age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other substantial gainful work that
exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(2)(A) & 1382c(a)(3)(B).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a claimant is
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4) & 416.920(a)(4);
Lounsburry v. Barnhart, 468 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th
one inquires whether the claimant is presently engaged in
“substantial gainful activity.” 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(b) & 416.920(b). Substantial
gainful activity is defined as significant physical or mental
activities done or usually done for profit. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1572 & 416.972. If the claimant is
engaged in substantial activity, he or she is not entitled to
disability benefits. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 &
416.920(b). If not, the ALJ proceeds to step two.
two asks whether the claimant has a severe impairment, or
combination of impairments, that significantly limits the
claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) &
416.920(c). A severe impairment is one that has lasted or is
expected to last for at least twelve months, and must be
proven by objective medical evidence. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1508-09 & 416.908-09. If the claimant does not have a
severe impairment, or combination of impairments, the
disability claim is denied, and no further evaluative steps
are required. Otherwise, the evaluation proceeds to the third
three involves a determination of whether any of the
claimant's severe impairments “meets or
equals” one of the listed impairments acknowledged by
the Commissioner to be sufficiently severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526 & 416.920(d), 416.925,
416.926; 20 C.F.R. § 404 Subpt. P. App. 1 (“the
Listings”). If the impairment meets or equals one of
the listed impairments, the claimant is per se
disabled and qualifies for benefits. Id. If the
claimant is not per se disabled, the evaluation
proceeds to the fourth step.
four examines whether the claimant's residual functional
capacity enables the claimant to perform past relevant work.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e)-(f) & 416.920(e)-(f).
If the claimant can still perform past relevant work, the