United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION TO
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge
appeals the Commissioner's denial of her application for
disability insurance 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
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
applied for disability benefits. Dkt. 13, Administrative
Record (“AR”) 18. She alleges she became disabled
as of November 30, 2010. Id. The Commissioner denied
her applications on initial administrative review and on
reconsideration. Id. Following a hearing, an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) found plaintiff
to be not disabled. AR 45-56. Plaintiff appealed that
decision, and the Social Security Administration Appeals
Council vacated the ALJ's decision and remanded the case.
AR 62. A second hearing was held before the ALJ. AR 443-85.
The ALJ again found plaintiff to be not disabled. AR 18-31.
Plaintiff appeals that decision, seeking reversal and remand
for further administrative proceedings.
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.'” Trevizo v.
Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 674 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988)). This
requires “more than a mere scintilla, ” though
“less than a preponderance” of the evidence.
Id. (quoting Desrosiers, 846 F.2d at 576).
is responsible for determining credibility and resolving any
conflicts or ambiguities in the record. Treichler v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 775 F.3d 1090, 1098 (9th
Cir. 2014). When evidence is sufficient to support more than
one outcome, the Court upholds the ALJ's decision.
Trevizo, 871 F.3d at 674-75; Carmickle v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1165 (9th
Cir. 2008). The Court may not affirm by locating a quantum of
supporting evidence and ignoring the non-supporting evidence.
Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007).
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole,
weighing both the evidence that supports and evidence that
does not support the ALJ's conclusion. Garrison v.
Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014). The Court
may not affirm the ALJ's decision for a reason upon which
the ALJ did not rely. Id. at 1010. Only the reasons
the ALJ identifies are considered in the scope of the
Court's review. Id.
Whether the ALJ was required to further develop the record.
Whether the ALJ erred in evaluating the medical evidence.
Whether the ALJ erred in discounting plaintiff's
testimony about her symptoms and limitations.
Whether the ALJ erred in discounting a lay witness statement
from plaintiff's friend.
Whether any of the above alleged errors resulted in an
erroneous residual functional capacity (RFC) determination.
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 five of that process,
the ALJ assesses the claimant's residual functional
capacity (RFC) to determine whether he or she can make an
adjustment to other work. Kennedy v. Colvin, 738
F.3d 1172, 1175 (9th Cir. 2013). It is the ALJ's burden
to show the claimant can perform jobs that exist “in
significant numbers ...