United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
T. RODGERS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment.
ECF No. 14, 19. Attorney Dana Chris Madsen represents Ryan G.
(Plaintiff); Special Assistant United States Attorney
Catherine Escobar represents the Commissioner of Social
Security (Defendant). The parties have consented to proceed
before a magistrate judge. ECF No. 6. After reviewing the
administrative record and the briefs filed by the parties,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment and DENIES Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
filed an application for Supplemental Security Income on
September 24, 2013, alleging disability since January 1,
2011, due to mental health impairments, including generalized
anxiety, panic disorder with agoraphobia, social
communication disorder, dysthymia, and avoidant personality
disorder. Tr. 77. The application was denied initially and
upon reconsideration. Tr. 99-102, 106-08. Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) Donna Walker held a hearing on January 26, 2016,
Tr. 36-75, and issued an unfavorable decision on February 18,
2016, Tr. 15-25. Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council and the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review on March 30, 2018. Tr. 1-5. The ALJ's
February 2016 decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner, which is appealable to the district court
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff filed this
action for judicial review on May 23, 2018. ECF No. 1, 4.
was born in 1994 and was 19 years old as of the filing of his
application. Tr. 24. He has a high school education and
received some special education services when in school. Tr.
39-40. He has lived with his mother or his grandmother his
entire life and has never had a job. Tr. 47-48, 54-56.
is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995). The ALJ's determinations of law are reviewed
de novo, with deference to a reasonable
interpretation of the applicable statutes. McNatt v.
Apfel, 201 F.3d 1084, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000). The decision
of the ALJ may be reversed only if it is not supported by
substantial evidence or if it is based on legal error.
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir.
1999). Substantial evidence is defined as being more than a
mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Id.
at 1098. Put another way, substantial evidence 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). If the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1097; Morgan v.
Commissioner of Social Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599
(9th Cir. 1999). If substantial evidence supports the
administrative findings, or if conflicting evidence supports
a finding of either disability or non-disability, the
ALJ's determination is conclusive. Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-1230 (9th Cir. 1987).
Nevertheless, a decision supported by substantial evidence
will be set aside if the proper legal standards were not
applied in weighing the evidence and making the decision.
Brawner v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
839 F.2d 432, 433 (9th Cir. 1988).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a); Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-142 (1987). In steps one
through four, the burden of proof rests upon the claimant to
establish a prima facie case of entitlement to disability
benefits. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-1099. This
burden is met once a claimant establishes that a physical or
mental impairment prevents the claimant from engaging in past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4). If the
claimant cannot do her past relevant work, the ALJ proceeds
to step five, and the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
show that (1) the claimant can make an adjustment to other
work, and (2) the claimant can perform specific jobs which
exist in the national economy. Batson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193-94 (9th Cir.
2004). If a claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work
in the national economy, the claimant will be found disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v).
February 18, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the Social Security
one, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since September 24, 2013, the application
date. Tr. 18.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: persistent depressive disorder, unspecified
anxiety disorder, and personality ...