United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION
AND DISMISSING WITH PREJUDICE
A. Tsuchida, Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
appeals the denial of his application for Social Security
Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income
disability benefits. He contends the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) erred in his evaluation of the medical
opinion evidence and of Plaintiff's subjective claims,
all of which resulted in an erroneous residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) assessment. Dkt. 12, p. 1. The
Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final
decision and DISMISSES the case with
8, 2015 (protective), Plaintiff applied for Social Security
Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental
Security Income disability benefits (SSI), under Titles II
and XVI, respectively, of the Social Security Act (the Act),
alleging disability beginning July 1, 2014 (amended), with a
date last insured of December 31, 2014. Tr. 55, 255. 42 USC
§§ 423 (d) (1) (A), 1382c (a) (3). On September 1,
2015, the claims were denied initially, and on January 15,
2016, on reconsideration. Tr. 126-32. On February 8, 2016,
Plaintiff requested a hearing. Tr. 136-41. On July 18, 2017,
ALJ S. Andrew Grace held the hearing, with Plaintiff, his
attorney, and a vocational expert (VE) in attendance. Tr.
the five-step disability evaluation process (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920), the ALJ determined at steps
one through three, that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity during the period at issue;
Plaintiff established degenerative disc disease; hearing
loss; headache; anxiety; and major depressive disorder; and
these impairments did not meet the Listings (20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P. Appendix 1). Tr. 26, 27.
then assessed Plaintiff with the following RFC: Light work;
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; never crawl;
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel,
and crouch; frequently push and pull bilaterally; perform
simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, consistent with
unskilled work; low stress work, defined as work requiring
few decisions and/or changes; tolerate moderate noise level,
which is defined as noise level of a department store or
grocery store; avoid concentrated exposure to vibrations and
hazards. Tr. 28. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
could not perform his past relevant work. Tr. 43.
five, the ALJ relied on a vocational expert, who testified
Plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs such as
Housekeeper, DOT 323.687-014, light, unskilled SVP 2, with
140, 000 such jobs in the national economy and 2, 500 in the
state of Washington; and Price marker, DOT 209.587-034,
light, unskilled SVP 2, with 25, 000 jobs nationally and 200
in Washington. Tr. 44.
January 31, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff
not disabled. Tr. 21-51. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on December 18, 2018.
Thus, the ALJ's decision is the final decision of the
Commissioner, and is ripe for judicial review.
Court will reverse the ALJ's decision only if it was not
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole or
if the ALJ applied the wrong legal standard. Molina v.
Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012). The
ALJ's decision may not be reversed on account of an error
that is harmless. Id. at 1111. Where the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Court must uphold the Commissioner's interpretation.
Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
Evaluation of Medical Evidence
contends the ALJ failed to reasonably evaluate the opinions
of examining physician Ronald Goldberg, M.D.; treating nurse
practitioner Erin Chase, A.R.N.P.; examining psychiatrist
Peter Weiss, Ph.D.; and counselor Phillip Williams, M.A.,
cases filed before March 27, 2017, more weight should be
given to the opinions of treating and examining doctors than
to the opinions of doctors who do not treat the claimant.
Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995);
see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2); SSR 96-2p. The ALJ must
“explain in the decision the weight given to the
opinions” of all acceptable medical sources. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1527(e)(2)(ii) (2016). An ALJ may reject the
opinion of an examining physician that is contradicted by the
opinion of a non-examining physician for specific and
legitimate reasons. Moore v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 278 F.3d 920, 924 (9th Cir. 2002).
may discount “other source” evidence, such as
nurse practitioners and counselors (see 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1502, 416.902 (defining acceptable medical
sources)), by offering any reason that is