United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge.
G. has brought this matter for judicial review of
defendant's denial of his application for disability
insurance benefits. Plaintiff seeks reversal of the ALJ's
decision and requests that the Court remand for an award of
benefits. The Court finds no error and affirms.
filed an application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits in April 2014. Dkt. 9,
Administrative Record (AR) 31. Plaintiff alleged that his
disability onset date was July 29, 2013. Id. His
claim was denied initially and on reconsideration.
hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on
December 14, 2015. AR 49-94. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert appeared and testified. Id.
determined that plaintiff suffers from the following severe
impairments: “degenerative joint disease of the left
knee; status post-surgical repair for meniscal tear of the
left knee; degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; and
obesity.” AR 33.
found that, even with the impairments and symptoms that were
reflected in the medical records and in testimony, plaintiff
can perform certain types of “light” work,
including his past jobs as a postal clerk and data entry
clerk. AR 42. The ALJ therefore found that plaintiff is not
disabled. Id. The Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review in March 2018, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. AR
1. Plaintiff appealed that decision with this Court. Dkt. 4.
Standard of Review and Scope of Review
Commissioner employs a five-step “sequential evaluation
process” to determine whether a claimant is disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. If the ALJ finds the claimant
disabled or not disabled at any step, the ALJ makes the
disability determination at that step and the sequential
evaluation process ends. See id.
five steps are a set of criteria by which the ALJ considers:
(1) Does the claimant presently work in substantial gainful
activity? (2) Is the claimant's impairment (or
combination of impairments) severe? (3) Does the
claimant's impairment (or combination) equal or meet an
impairment that is listed in the regulations? (4) Does the
claimant have residual functional capacity (RFC), and if so,
does this RFC show that the complainant would be able to
perform relevant work that he or she has done in the past?
And (5) if the claimant cannot perform previous work, are
there significant numbers of jobs that exist in the national
economy that the complainant nevertheless would be able to
perform in the future? Keyser v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 648 F.3d 721, 724-25 (9th Cir. 2011).
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009-10 (9th Cir.
2014). The Court is required to weigh both the evidence that
supports, and evidence that does not support, the ALJ's
conclusion. Id. The Court reviews “only the
reasons provided by the ALJ in the disability determination
and may not affirm the ALJ on a ground upon which he did not
rely.” Id. at 1010.
Court will uphold an ALJ's decision unless: (1) the
decision is based on legal error; or (2) the decision is not
supported by substantial evidence. Revels v.
Berryhill, 874 F.3d 648, 654 (9th Cir. 2017).
Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Biestek v. Berryhill, 139
S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co.
v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). This requires
“more than a mere scintilla, ” though “less
than a preponderance” of the evidence. Id.;
Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 674-75 (9th Cir.
2017). If more than one rational interpretation can be drawn
from the evidence, then the Court must uphold the ALJ's
interpretation. Revels, 874 F.3d at 654. The Court
may not affirm by locating a quantum of supporting evidence
and ignoring the non-supporting evidence. Id.
contends that the ALJ misapplied the law and lacked
substantial evidence for her decision to deny benefits.
Specifically, plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by failing
to conduct a sufficient analysis with respect to a listed
impairment and failing to properly assess the opinion of an