Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jennifer M v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 12, 2019

JENNIFER M., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge.

         Jennifer M. has brought this matter for judicial review of defendant's denial of her applications for disability insurance and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. The parties have consented to have this matter heard by the undersigned Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73; Local Rule MJR 13. For the reasons below, the undersigned reverses defendant's decision to deny benefits and remands for further proceedings.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance and supplemental security income benefits in August 2014, alleging she became disabled as of March 1, 2014. Dkt. 9, Administrative Record (AR) 69. Both applications were denied at the initial and reconsideration administrative review levels. Id. A hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Id. Plaintiff appeared and testified, as did a vocational expert. AR 112-45. The ALJ determined that plaintiff can perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy and therefore is not disabled. AR 69-82. Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court, seeking reversal and remand for an award of benefits or, alternatively, for further proceedings.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court will uphold an ALJ's decision unless: (1) the decision is based on legal error, or (2) the decision is not supported by substantial evidence. Revels v. Berryhill, 874 F.3d 648, 654 (9th Cir. 2017). Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Biestek v. Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). This requires “more than a mere scintilla, ” though “less than a preponderance” of the evidence. Id.; Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 674-75 (9th Cir. 2017).

         The Court must consider the administrative record as a whole. Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014). It must weigh both the evidence that supports, and evidence that does not support, the ALJ's conclusion. Id. The Court considers in its review only the reasons the ALJ identified and may not affirm for a different reason. Id. Furthermore, “[l]ong-standing principles of administrative law require us to review the ALJ's decision based on the reasoning and actual findings offered by the ALJ-not post hoc rationalizations that attempt to intuit what the adjudicator may have been thinking.” Bray v. Comm'r of SSA, 554 F.3d 1219, 1225-26 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). “If the evidence admits of more than one rational interpretation, ” the Court must uphold the ALJ's finding. Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984). It is unnecessary for the ALJ to “discuss all evidence presented”. Vincent on Behalf of Vincent v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original). The ALJ must only explain why “significant probative evidence has been rejected.” Id. The Court should consider that “‘[w]here there is conflicting evidence sufficient to support either outcome, '” the Court “‘must affirm the decision actually made.'” Id. (quoting Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th Cir. 1971)).

         III. ISSUES FOR REVEW

1. Did the ALJ provide adequate reasons to reject an examining psychologist's opinion?
2. Did the ALJ provide adequate reasons to discount lay testimony from plaintiff's mother?
3. Did the ALJ provide adequate reasons to reject plaintiff's testimony?
4. If the ALJ committed reversible errors, should the Court remand with directions to award benefits?

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine if a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step four of that process, a claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC) is assessed to determine whether past relevant work can be performed, and, if necessary, at step five to determine whether an adjustment to other work can be made. Kennedy v. Colvin, 738 F.3d 1172, 1175 (9th Cir. 2013). At step five, the Commissioner has the burden of proof, which can be met by showing a significant number of jobs exist in the national economy that the claimant can perform. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1099 (9th Cir. 1999); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).

         A. Medical Opinion Evidence

         The ALJ erred in rejecting the medical opinion of an examining psychologist regarding ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.