United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
WILLIAM A. D., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION
AND DISMISSING WITH PREJUDICE
A. TSUCHIDA CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
appeals the denial of his application for Supplemental
Security Income. He contends the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) erred by according the opinions of the
testifying medical consultant and examining physicians
greater weight than the opinions of his treating optometrist
and physician, and erred in her determination of his
credibility, all of which resulted in an erroneous residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment. Dkt. 8,
Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final
decision and DISMISSES the case with
filed an application for disability insurance benefits, on
August 7, 2014, alleging disability commencing on August 3,
2013. Plaintiff alleges that he has been disabled since a
workplace accident in which he slipped, fell, and hit his
head and lost consciousness. He alleges that since the
accident, he has had persistent double vision (diplopia),
migraines and shoulder pain. Plaintiff's application was
denied initially on June 5, 2015 and on reconsideration on
October 29, 2015. Tr. 15. ALJ Marilyn S. Mauer presided over
a hearing on May 18, 2017, and a supplemental hearing on
August 30, 2017. Plaintiff was represented by counsel. A
medical consultant and vocational consultant also testified.
the five-step disability evaluation process (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920), the ALJ determined at steps
one through three, that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial activity from his alleged onset date of August 3,
2013 through his date of last insured of December 31, 2014;
Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: subjective
diplopia, migraine, adhesive capsulitis in the left shoulder,
and organic brain syndrome (20 CFR 404.1520(c)); and these
impairments did not meet the Listings (20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P. Appendix 1). Tr. 17, 18.
four, the ALJ found that through the date last insured,
Plaintiff had the RFC to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b). In addition, Plaintiff can never climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can frequently balance, climb
ramps and stairs with the aid of a handrail, stoop, crouch,
crawl, and kneel; can occasionally reach overhead with the
left arm; can work in a setting that does not require
exposure to hazards such as unprotected height, large moving
equipment, exposure to extreme cold temperatures, and
vibration; can understand, remember and apply information,
complete tasks with a GED reasoning level of 2 or less in a
setting with occasional coworker contact and no public
contact; and can perform tasks that do not require excellent
depth perception. Tr. 20
five, the ALJ relied on a vocational expert, who testified
Plaintiff could work as a light office helper, router, and
electronics worker. The vocational expert also testified that
Plaintiff could still perform these jobs if he were limited
to frequent fine manipulation with the dominant right hand,
and if he were limited to only occasional reading, he could
still perform the jobs of electronics worker and office
helper. Tr. 28.
issued her decision denying Plaintiff's application on
December 4, 2017. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review on November 13, 2018. Thus, the ALJ's
decision is the final decision of the Commissioner, and is
ripe for judicial review.
Court will reverse the ALJ's decision only if it was not
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole or
if the ALJ applied the wrong legal standard. Molina v.
Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012). The
ALJ's decision may not be reversed on account of an error
that is harmless. Id. at 1111. Where the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Court must uphold the Commissioner's interpretation.
Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
Evaluation of Medical Evidence
Curtis Baxstrom, O.D.
contends the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of his
optometrist, Curtis Baxstrom, because the ALJ failed to
consider Dr. Baxstrom's treating relationship with
Plaintiff and his area of specialization, and ignored the
hierarchy of medical opinions. See, e.g, 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527; see also Lester v. Chater,
81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995) (treating
physicians, who actually treat the claimant, examining
physicians, who ...