United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
THERESA L. FRICKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. has brought this matter for judicial review of
defendant's denial of his applications for disability
insurance and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits.
The parties have 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 undersigned affirms defendant's
decision to deny benefits.
filed applications for disability insurance benefits and SSI
in October 2015, alleging he became disabled as of April 15,
2015. Dkt. 9, Administrative Record (AR) 15. Both
applications were denied at the initial and reconsideration
levels of administrative review. Id. After a
hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable written decision on May 1, 2017. Id.; AR
29-85 (hearing transcript). The ALJ performed the five-step
sequential analysis. AR 15-28. He determined that there were
jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy
that plaintiff could perform, and therefore that plaintiff
was not disabled. AR 27. Plaintiff filed a complaint with
this Court, seeking reversal and remand for a new hearing or
an award of benefits.
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.
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (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 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.
the evidence admits of more than one rational interpretation,
” that decision must be upheld. Allen v.
Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984). That is,
“‘[w]here there is conflicting evidence
sufficient to support either outcome, '” the Court
“‘must affirm the decision actually
made.'” Id. (quoting Rhinehart v.
Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th Cir. 1971)).
1. Did the ALJ err in determining that plaintiff's
mental-health conditions did not meet the criteria for a
2. Did the ALJ err in failing to include manipulative
limitations in plaintiff's residual functional capacity?
3. Did the ALJ provide adequate reasons to discount
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step four of that process,
the 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 Commissioner has the burden of proof, which can be
met by showing a significant number of ...