United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge.
has brought this matter for judicial review of
Defendant's denial of her application for disability
insurance 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 set forth below, the Court affirms
Defendant's decision to deny benefits.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
9, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for disability
insurance benefits, alleging a disability onset date of June
2, 2014. AR 13, 259-60. Plaintiff's application was
denied upon initial administrative review and on
reconsideration. AR 148-58, 160-64. An initial hearing was
held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Kelly Wilson on August 10, 2016. AR 83-115. Because ALJ
Wilson was unavailable to issue a decision, a second hearing
was held before ALJ David Johnson on July 17, 2017. AR 13,
39-82. In a decision dated September 28, 2017, ALJ Johnson
determined Plaintiff to be not disabled. AR 10-32. The Social
Security Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review on July 9, 2018. AR 1-6. The ALJ's decision of
September 28, 2017 is the final decision of the Commissioner
subject to judicial review. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981.
Plaintiff appealed to this Court and seeks an order remanding
this case either for further administrative proceedings or an
award of benefits. Dkt. 16, p. 9.
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.'” Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871
F.3d 664, 674 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Desrosiers v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573,
576 (9th Cir. 1988)). This requires “‘more than a
mere scintilla, '” though “‘less than a
preponderance'” of the evidence. Id.
(quoting Desrosiers, 846 F.2d at 576).
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir.
2014). The Court is required to weigh both the evidence that
supports, and evidence that does not support, the ALJ's
conclusion. Id. The Court may not affirm the
decision of the ALJ for a reason upon which the ALJ did not
rely. Id. Only the reasons identified by the ALJ are
considered in the scope of the Court's review.
the ALJ err in evaluating the opinions of Michael Wingren,
M.D., Eric Hofmeister, M.D., and Richard Whons, M.D.?
the ALJ err in assessing Plaintiff's residual functional
the ALJ err in finding that Plaintiff could perform her past
relevant work at step four?
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine if a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. The ALJ assesses the claimant's RFC to
determine, at step four, whether the plaintiff can perform
past relevant work, and if necessary, at step five to
determine whether the plaintiff can adjust to other work.
Kennedy v. Colvin, 738 F.3d 1172, 1175 (9th Cir.
2013). The ALJ has the burden of proof at step five to show
that a significant number of jobs that the claimant can
perform exist in the national economy. Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1099 (9th Cir. 1999); 20 C.F.R.
Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the ...