United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
Alice Theiler United States Magistrate Judge
proceeds through counsel in his appeal of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's
application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) after a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Having
considered the ALJ's decision, the administrative record
(AR), and all memoranda, this matter is AFFIRMED.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1985. He completed the ninth or tenth grade
of school, does not have a GED, and has no past relevant
work. (AR 39, 55, 213, 222.)
protectively filed an SSI application in March 2015, alleging
disability beginning January 1, 1988. (AR 204.) His
application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
September 20, 2016, ALJ S. Andrew Grace held a hearing,
taking testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE).
(AR 34-59.) Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to March
23, 2015. (See AR 15, 37.) The ALJ held a second
hearing on January 10, 2017, taking testimony from plaintiff
and a medical expert (ME). (AR 60-82.) On October 16, 2017,
the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled. (AR
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on September 27, 2018 (AR 1-5), making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to
Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2000).
At step one, it must be determined whether the claimant is
gainfully employed. The ALJ noted plaintiff's testimony
he performed some community service/volunteer work at a food
bank in 2015 and found he had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date. At step two,
it must be determined whether a claimant suffers from a
severe impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's tetralogy of
Fallot with pulmonary valve regurgitation status post
pulmonary valve replacement, heart murmur, pulmonic stenosis,
pulmonic regurgitation, depression, and learning disorder not
otherwise specified severe. Step three asks whether a
claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed impairment.
The ALJ found plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
equal a listing.
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listing,
the Commissioner must assess residual functional capacity
(RFC) and determine at step four whether the claimant has
demonstrated an inability to perform past relevant work. The
ALJ found plaintiff able to perform sedentary work, with the
following limitations: never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; occasionally climb ramps and stairs and stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl; avoid concentrated exposure to
extreme temperatures, pulmonary irritants, and hazards;
limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks consistent with
unskilled work and low stress work, defined as work requiring
few decisions/changes; and occasional contact with
co-workers, but no public contact. Plaintiff had no past
relevant work to consider.
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform past relevant
work, or has no past relevant work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate at step five that the claimant
retains the capacity to make an adjustment to work that
exists in significant levels in the national economy. With
the assistance of the VE, the ALJ found plaintiff capable of
performing other jobs, such as work as a table worker,
semiconductor dye loader, and semiconductor wafer breaker.
Court's review of the ALJ's decision is limited to
whether the decision is in accordance with the law and the
findings supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole. See Penny v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 953, 956 (9th
Cir. 1993). Accord Marsh v. Colvin, 792 F.3d 1170,
1172 (9th Cir. 2015) (“We will set aside a denial of
benefits only if the denial is unsupported by substantial
evidence in the administrative record or is based on legal
error.”) Substantial evidence means more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). If ...