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.

Maureen S. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 14, 2019

MAUREEN S., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred by discounting her subjective testimony, her husband's lay statement, and the opinions of two of her treating physicians.[1] (Dkt. # 8 at 1.) As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born in 1956, has a college degree, and has worked as an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, reservations agent, and customer care manager. AR at 43, 62-63. Plaintiff was last gainfully employed in July 2015. Id. at 190.

         In April 2015, Plaintiff protectively applied for benefits, alleging disability as of July 31, 2015. AR at 151-52. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. at 86-91, 94-95. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on July 31, 2017 (id. at 36-65), the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. Id. at 15-27.

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff's lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, obesity, peripheral neuropathy, and fibromyalgia are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”): Plaintiff can perform light work with additional limitations: she can lift and/or carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can stand and/or walk for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday, and sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday. She can occasionally climb ramps/stairs, but can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can frequently balance and stoop, and occasionally kneel, crouch, and crawl. She must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, heat, vibration, fumes, odors, dusts, gases and poor ventilation, as well as hazards such as moving machinery and unprotected heights.
Step four: Plaintiff can perform her past relevant work as a reservations agent and senior reservations agent, and is therefore not disabled.

AR at 15-27.

         As the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. AR at 1-6. Plaintiff appealed the final decision of the Commissioner to this Court.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the Commissioner's denial of social security benefits when the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 (9th Cir. 2005). As a general principle, an ALJ's error may be deemed harmless where it is “inconsequential to the ultimate nondisability determination.” Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1115 (9th Cir. 2012) (cited sources omitted). The Court looks to “the record as a whole to determine whether the error alters the outcome of the case.” Id.

         “Substantial evidence” is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance, and 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); Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving any other ambiguities that might exist. Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995). While the Court is required to examine the record as a whole, it may neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002). When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, it is the Commissioner's conclusion that must be upheld. Id.

         IV. ...


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.