Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Katherine M. v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

April 29, 2019

KATHERINE M., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL

          MARY ALICE THEILER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff proceeds through counsel in her appeal of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (Commissioner). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) 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.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff was born on XXXX, 1975.[1] She has a high school diploma or GED[2] and some college education, and has previously worked as an inventory clerk, data entry clerk, airplane assembler, food packager, and product tester. (AR 75, 384-93.)

         Plaintiff applied for SSI and DIB in November 2014. (AR 317-20, 322-30.) Those applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and Plaintiff timely requested a hearing. (AR 171-78, 182-201.)

         On May 8, 2017, ALJ Larry Kennedy held a hearing, taking testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR 67-119.) On July 3, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (AR 15-32.) Plaintiff timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on May 22, 2018 (AR 1-6), making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to this Court.

         JURISDICTION

         The Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         DISCUSSION

         The 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 March 1, 2014, the alleged onset date. (AR 19-20.) At step two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ found severe Plaintiff's major depressive disorder; anxiety related disorder (anxiety disorder not otherwise specified, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder); and headaches secondary to obstructive hydrocephalus. (AR 20.) Step three asks whether a claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed impairment. The ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the criteria of a listed impairment. (AR 20-22.)

         If a 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 capable of performing light work, with additional limitations: she can never climb or crawl, and should avoid concentrated exposure to vibrations and hazards. She can work in very quiet to moderate noise intensity levels. She can perform simple, routine tasks and follow short, simple instructions. She can do work that needs little or no judgment, and can perform simple duties that can be learned on the job in a short period. She can work in proximity to co-workers but not in a cooperative or team effort. She requires a work environment that has no more than superficial interactions with co-workers. She requires a work environment that is predictable and with few work setting changes. She cannot deal with the general public as in a sales position or where the general public is frequently encountered as an essential element of the work process. Incidental contact of a superficial nature with the general public is not precluded. (AR 22.) With that assessment, the ALJ found Plaintiff unable to perform past relevant work. (AR 30.)

         If a claimant demonstrates an inability to perform 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 VE's assistance, the ALJ found Plaintiff capable of transitioning to representative occupations such as garment sorter and electrical accessories assembler. (AR 31-32.)

         This 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). 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 there is more than one rational interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ's decision, the Court must uphold that decision. Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in (1) discounting her subjective symptom testimony; and (2) discounting the opinion of examining psychologist David Widlan, Ph.D.[3] The Commissioner argues that the ALJ's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.