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Amanda B. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 24, 2019

AMANDA B., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION AND DISMISSING THE CASE WITH PREJUDICE

          Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred by rejecting her testimony and her treating doctor's opinions. Dkt. 7. As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently 39 years old, has at least a high school education, and has worked as a forklift operator, store laborer, salesperson, cashier, and day worker. Dkt. 5, Admin. Record (AR) 27-28. Plaintiff applied for benefits in July 2015. AR 106, 116. She alleges disability as of July 1, 2015. AR 49. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 104, 105, 146, 147. After the ALJ conducted hearings in February 2017 and June 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. AR 39, 92, 15-29.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar degenerative disc disease; asthma; and depression.
Step three: Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform light work but cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can frequently kneel or crouch, and occasionally stoop, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs. She must avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, and gases. She can perform simple routine tasks defined as a reasoning level no greater than two.
Step four: Plaintiff cannot perform past relevant work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, she is not disabled.

AR 17-29. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. AR 1.

         DISCUSSION

         This Court may set aside the Commissioner's denial of Social Security benefits only if the ALJ's decision is based on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 674 (9th Cir. 2017). Each of an ALJ's findings must be supported by substantial evidence. Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998). “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 evaluating evidence, 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 ALJ. Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954, 957 (9th Cir. 2002). When the evidence is susceptible to more ...


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