United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION TO
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge
K. has brought this matter for judicial review of
defendant's denial of his 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 Commissioner's decision is
ISSUES FOR REVEW
the ALJ give valid, supported reasons to discount an
examining psychologist's opinion?
the ALJ err in failing to include additional mental-health
limitations in plaintiff's residual functional capacity?
filed applications for disability insurance benefits and SSI
in March 2015, alleging he became disabled as of February 1,
2009. Dkt. 8, Administrative Record (AR) 15. (Plaintiff later
amended his alleged onset date to June 29, 2013. AR 334.) His
application was denied at the initial and reconsideration
levels of administrative review. AR 15.
hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that
plaintiff was not disabled. AR 17-24 (decision dated July 26,
2017); AR 77-114 (hearing transcript). She conducted the five
step analysis and determined (at step five) there were jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy that
plaintiff could perform. AR 23-24. Plaintiff filed a
complaint with this Court, seeking reversal and remand for an
award of benefits.
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) (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. Trevizo v.
Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 674-75 (9th Cir. 2017).
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. The Court considers only the reasons the
ALJ identified. Id.
the evidence admits of more than one rational interpretation,
” that decision must be upheld. Allen v.
Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984). That is,
“‘[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)).
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step four of that process,
the 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 ...