United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
Alice Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge.
Eric Michael Moses proceeds through counsel in his 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. He completed two years of college and
previously worked as a general hardware salesperson, cabinet
maker, carpenter, and construction superintendent. (AR 38,
protectively filed for SSI in May 2014, alleging disability
beginning December 30, 2003. (AR 233.) The application was
denied initially and on reconsideration.
August 15, 2016, ALJ Gene Duncan held a hearing, taking
testimony from plaintiff, a medical expert (ME), and a
vocational expert (VE). (AR 34-66.) His alleged onset date
was amended to the May 5, 2014 protective filing date. (AR
39.) On November 1, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled. (AR 20-28.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on December 18, 2017 (AR 1), 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 May 5, 2014
application date. At step two, it must be determined whether
a claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ found
severe plaintiff's degenerative disc disease of the
lumbosacral spine with osteophytosis, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, and obesity. 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 lift and/or carry up to twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, and to stand
and/or walk four hours and sit six hours in an eight-hour
workday. He can perform occasional postural movements, but no
climbing tall ladders, working at heights or near hazards, or
crawling or balancing; cannot work around moving machinery
and should not be exposed to concentrated levels of pulmonary
irritants or extreme hot and cold temperatures; should
perform work with goals and not numerical quotas; can work
independently; should have no direct access to drugs or
alcohol and should not be in charge of safety of others;
would be off task six percent of the day; and should not do
conveyor belt work. With that assessment, the ALJ found
plaintiff unable to perform 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 cashier II, counter
clerk, and ticket taker.
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 ...