United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
T. RODGERS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment.
ECF No. 12, 13. Attorney Lora Lee Stover represents Brian P.
(Plaintiff); Special Assistant United States Attorney Heather
L. Griffith represents the Commissioner of Social Security
(Defendant). The parties have consented to proceed before a
magistrate judge. ECF No. 6. After reviewing the
administrative record and the briefs filed by the parties,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment and DENIES Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
filed an application for Supplemental Security Income on
December 1, 2014, alleging disability since November 5, 2013,
to mental health impairments. Tr. 139. The application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 162-65,
169-71. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Caroline Siderius held
three hearings, on December 12, 2016, July 25, 2017, and
August 16, 2017. Tr. 63-97, 98-113, 114-138. The ALJ issued
an unfavorable decision on September 8, 2017. Tr. 17-29.
Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council. Tr. 284,
419-20. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review on June 3, 2018. Tr. 1-7. The ALJ's September
2017 decision became the final decision of the Commissioner,
which is appealable to the district court pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff filed this action for
judicial review on July 24, 2018. ECF No. 1, 4.
was born in 1982 and was 32 years old as of the alleged onset
date. Tr. 28. He has a 12th grade education. Tr. 66. His work
history consists primarily of fast food service,
telemarketing, and sales. Tr. 132, 331, 343, 401-03.
experienced a difficult childhood. Adopted at birth, his
parents moved around throughout his childhood. Tr. 657, 760.
He witnessed and was the victim of abuse at the hands of his
father and other caretakers. Tr. 444, 657-58, 770. His
parents divorced when he was ten years old. Tr. 657. At the
age of 13, he joined a gang and was a witness and perpetrator
of further violence. Tr. 658, 751-52.
adult years, Plaintiff suffered a number of losses in a short
period, including the deaths of both of his parents and his
best friend. Tr. 451, 489, 501, 517. He had numerous felony
convictions and domestic violence charges and spent time
incarcerated. Tr. 421, 457-58.
2014 he began treatment with Frontier Behavioral Health. Tr.
457. After a few months of services, he was discharged from
counseling, as he had met his treatment goals. Tr. 528. At
the end of 2015, he reengaged with services and continued in
treatment through May of 2017. Tr. 521, 749.
is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995). The ALJ's determinations of law are reviewed
de novo, with deference to a reasonable
interpretation of the applicable statutes. McNatt v.
Apfel, 201 F.3d 1084, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000). The decision
of the ALJ may be reversed only if it is not supported by
substantial evidence or if it is based on legal error.
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir.
1999). Substantial evidence is defined as being more than a
mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Id.
at 1098. Put another way, substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). If the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1097; Morgan v.
Commissioner of Social Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599
(9th Cir. 1999). If substantial evidence supports the
administrative findings, or if conflicting evidence supports
a finding of either disability or non-disability, the
ALJ's determination is conclusive. Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-1230 (9th Cir. 1987).
Nevertheless, a decision supported by substantial evidence
will be set aside if the proper legal standards were not
applied in weighing the evidence and making the decision.
Brawner v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
839 F.2d 432, 433 (9th Cir. 1988).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a); Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-142 (1987). In steps one
through four, the burden of proof rests upon the claimant to
establish a prima facie case of entitlement to disability
benefits. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-1099. This
burden is met once a claimant establishes that a physical or
mental impairment prevents the claimant from engaging in past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4). If the
claimant cannot do her past relevant work, the ALJ proceeds
to step five, and the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
show that (1) the claimant can make an adjustment to other
work, and (2) the claimant can perform specific jobs which
exist in the national economy. Batson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193-94 (9th Cir.
2004). If a claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work
in the national economy, the claimant will be found disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v).
September 8, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled as ...