United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION
AND DISMISSING THE CASE WITH PREJUDICE
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
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.
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,
the five-step disability evaluation process,  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
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
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.
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