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 applications for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The
parties have consented to have this matter heard by the
undersigned Magistrate Judge. The Court affirms
Defendant's decision to deny benefits.
ISSUES FOR REVEW
the ALJ err with respect to medical evidence in deciding step
three, and step five?
the ALJ err in assessing Plaintiff's residual functional
the ALJ err in evaluating the vocational expert's
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits, alleging an onset date of July
4, 2014. AR 22, 256-57. On January 12, 2015, Plaintiff filed
an application for supplemental security income, with the
same alleged date of onset. AR 22, 258-63. Plaintiff's
applications were denied. AR 22, 172-77, 179-85. A hearing
was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
David Johnson on March 31, 2017. AR 42-89. The ALJ found
Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 19-34. The Social Security
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR
1-8. Plaintiff appealed to this Court and seeks an order
reversing the ALJ's decision and remanding either for
further administrative proceedings or an award of benefits.
Dkt. 11, p. 13.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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). This requires “more than a
mere scintilla” of evidence. Id.
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.
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine if a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. 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.
§§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
case, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments at step two: Mood disorder, posttraumatic stress
disorder, major depressive disorder, headaches, vertigo,
spinal abnormalities, hypothyroidism, right foot mass, and
plantar fasciitis. AR 24-25. He found that Plaintiff was not
able to perform past work, but that Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity to perform jobs available in the
national economy. AR 32-33.
The ALJ did not err in deciding step three ...