United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
seeks review of the denial of her applications for
Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance
Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) erred by discounting her subjective
testimony, the lay testimony, and the opinions of treating
providers. (Dkt. # 12.) As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS
the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case
was born in 1976, has some college education, and has worked
as a dairy milker, lumber labeler/wrapper, machine operator,
and tutor. AR at 307. Plaintiff was last gainfully employed
in May 2014. Id. at 306.
2014, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability as
of May 5, 2014. AR at 272-85. Plaintiff's applications
were denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff
requested a hearing. Id. at 148-54, 157-68. After
the ALJ conducted hearings in 2016 and 2017 (id. at
34-111), the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled. Id. at 16-26.
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's thyroid cancer is a severe
Step three: This impairment does not meet or equal the
requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform light
work with additional limitations: she can lift/carry 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can stand
and/or walk (with normal breaks) for a total of about 4 hours
in an 8-hour workday, or do work tasks that allow for a
sit/stand option. She can sit (with normal breaks) for about
6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She can frequently climb ramps
and stairs. She cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.
She cannot perform at a production-rate pace (e.g. assembly
line work or work where pace is set by machine), but is able
to perform goal-oriented work (e.g. work of an office cleaner
or work where pace is set by a worker rather than a machine).
She may be off-task 10% over the course of an 8-hour day.
Step four: Plaintiff cannot perform her past relevant work.
Step five: As there are other jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform,
Plaintiff is not disabled.
AR at 16-26.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final
decision. AR at 1-6. Plaintiff appealed the final decision of
the Commissioner to this Court.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits when
the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 (9th Cir.
2005). As a general principle, an ALJ's error may be
deemed harmless where it is “inconsequential to the
ultimate nondisability determination.” Molina v.
Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1115 (9th Cir. 2012) (cited
sources omitted). The Court looks to “the record as a
whole to determine whether the error alters the outcome of
the case.” Id.
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 determining credibility,
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 Commissioner. Thomas v. Barnhart, ...