United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION TO
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge.
brought this matter for judicial review of the
Commissioner's denial of his applications for disability
insurance and supplement security income benefits. The
parties consented to have this matter heard by the
undersigned Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73; Local Rule MJR 13. For
the reasons below, the Court affirms the Commissioner's
filed applications for disability insurance and supplemental
security income benefits in October 2014, alleging he became
disabled as of July 15, 2012. Dkt. 6, Administrative Record
(AR) 15. Both applications were denied at the initial and
reconsideration administrative review levels. AR 15.
Following a hearing held before an administrative law judge
(ALJ), at which plaintiff and a vocational expert appeared
and testified, and a supplemental hearing at which plaintiff
again testified, along with a different vocational expert,
the ALJ determined that there were jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff
could perform, and therefore that he was not disabled. AR
12-38, 39-65, 66-101. Plaintiff filed a complaint with this
Court, seeking reversal and remand for further administrative
Court will uphold an ALJ's decision unless it is: (1)
based on legal error; or (2) 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).
than one rational interpretation can be drawn from the
evidence, then the Court must uphold the ALJ's
interpretation. Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630
(9th Cir. 2007). That is, “[w]here there is conflicting
evidence sufficient to support either outcome, ” the
Court “must affirm the decision actually made.”
Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984)
(quoting Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th
Cir. 1971)). The Court, however, may not affirm by locating a
quantum of supporting evidence and ignoring the
non-supporting evidence. Orn, 495 F.3d at 630.
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir.
2014). The Court also must weigh both the evidence that
supports and evidence that does not support the ALJ's
conclusion. Id. The Court may not affirm the
decision of the ALJ for a reason upon which the ALJ did not
rely. Id. Only the reasons identified by the ALJ are
considered in the scope of the Court's review.
ALJ give adequate reasons to reject the medical opinions of
Alysa A. Ruddell, Ph.D., Luci Carstens, Ph.D., and Loren
Commissioner employs a five-step sequential evaluation
process to determine if a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step four of that process,
a claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC) is
assessed to determine whether past relevant work can be
performed, and, if necessary, at step five to determine
whether an adjustment to other work can be made. Kennedy
v. Colvin, 738 F.3d 1172, 1175 (9th Cir. 2013). At step
five, the ALJ has the burden of proof, which can be met by
showing a significant number of jobs exist in the national
economy that the claimant can perform. Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1099 (9th Cir. 1999); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
challenges the ALJ's decision discounting the medical
opinions of two examining physicians, Drs. Ruddell and
McCollom, and the opinion of non-examining physician, Dr.
Carstens. Dkt. 8. The Court concludes that the ALJ did not
err in discounting these doctors' opinions.
types of physicians may offer opinions in Social Security
cases: “(1) those who treat[ed] the claimant (treating
physicians); (2) those who examine[d] but d[id] not treat the
claimant (examining physicians); and (3) those who neither
examine[d] nor treat[ed] the claimant (non-examining
physicians).” Lester v. Chater,81 F.3d 821,
830 (9th Cir. 1996). A treating physician's opinion is
generally entitled to more weight than the opinion of a
doctor who examined but did not treat the ...