United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
CINDY M. ESTRADA, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Report and Recommendation RE:
Social Security Disability Appeal by the Honorable Mary Alice
Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge. Dkt. #16. Judge
Theiler recommends that the Commissioner's decision
denying benefits be affirmed. Plaintiff has filed objections
to the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”).
Dkt. #17. Defendant asks that the Court adopt the R&R and
affirm the Commissioner's decision but otherwise stands
on its prior briefing. Dkt. #18. Having fully considered
Plaintiff's objections, the R&R, and the remainder of
the record, the Court adopts the R&R and affirms.
does not object to the facts as recited in the R&R and
the Court therefore adopts the facts and procedural history
as set forth in the R&R. For the purposes of this Order,
it suffices to note that this Court previously remanded the
action for further administrative proceedings. Estrada v.
Colvin, No. C16-5029BAT (W.D. Wash.). On remand, a
second hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) and the ALJ ultimately determined that
Plaintiff was not disabled. More specifically, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”) allowed her to perform past relevant
work. Plaintiff appealed. After consideration, Judge Theiler
recommends that this Court affirm the ALJ's decision.
Standard of Review
district court has jurisdiction to review a magistrate
judge's R&R on dispositive matters. Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b). “A judge of the court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). The court reviews de novo those portions of the
R&R to which specific written objection is made.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); United States v. Reyna-Tapia,
328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc). “The
statute makes it clear that the district judge must review
the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de
novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.”
review of the R&R is de novo, the court must defer to the
ALJ's findings and may set aside the Commissioner's
denial of benefits only if the ALJ's findings are based
on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence in
the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Bayliss v.
Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1216-17 (9th Cir. 2005).
“Substantial evidence means more than a mere scintilla,
but less than a preponderance. It means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Valentine v. Comm'r Soc.
Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 690 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576 (9th Cir. 1988) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted)).
court must review the record as a whole and may not reweigh
the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954
(9th Cir. 2002). The ALJ determines credibility, resolves
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolves any other
ambiguities that may exist. Andrews v. Shalala, 53
F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995). When the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
court must uphold the ALJ's conclusion. Thomas,
278 F.3d at 954.
tracking the issues of her opening brief, raises several
objections to the R&R, necessitating de novo review.
However, Plaintiff's objections do not reveal error in
the ALJ's decision or the R&R and the R&R is
ultimately consistent with the Court's own de novo review
of the record. Nevertheless, the Court addresses
Plaintiff's objections as follows.
objects to the R&R, relying primarily on public policy
grounds, and alleges error in that Judge Theiler focused on
“functional limitations and restrictions resulting from
medically determinable impairments” instead of
Plaintiff's asserted barrier to work in this case-her
frequent medical appointments. Dkt. #17 at 1-2. Plaintiff
provides no legal support for her position and instead
advances broad policy arguments. Conversely, the Court agrees
with Judge Theiler's analysis and reliance on Goodman
v. Berryhill, C17-5115BAT (W.D. Wash. Sep. 25, 2017)
(noting that frequent medical treatment is not irrelevant,
but must be “necessitated by the medical ...