United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
Alice Theiler United States Magistrate Judge
proceeds through counsel in her appeal of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) after a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Having considered the
ALJ's decision, the administrative record (AR), and all
memoranda of record, this matter is AFFIRMED.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was born on XXXX, 1986. She has a high school diploma, and has
worked as a cashier, office clerk, fast food worker,
telephone representative, and housekeeper. (AR 132, 347.)
Plaintiff protectively applied for DIB and SSI in January
2014. (AR 166, 197, 317-29.) Those applications were denied
and Plaintiff timely requested a hearing. (AR 210-13,
2015-17, ALJs James W. Sherry and Glenn G. Meyers held five
hearings, taking testimony from Plaintiff, Plaintiff's
mother and boyfriend, and vocational experts (VEs). (AR
41-165.) On April 19, 2017, ALJ Meyers issued a decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled. (AR 22-34.) Plaintiff timely
appealed. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review on May 4, 2018 (AR 5-10), making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff
appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to this
Court has jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2000).
At step one, it must be determined whether the claimant is
gainfully employed. The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since October 7, 2012, the
alleged onset date. (AR 25.) At step two, it must be
determined whether a claimant suffers from a severe
impairment. The ALJ found severe Plaintiff's autonomic
small fiber neuropathy. (AR 25-26.) Step three asks whether a
claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed impairment.
The ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet
or equal the criteria of a listed impairment. (AR 26.)
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listing,
the Commissioner must assess residual functional capacity
(RFC) and determine at step four whether the claimant has
demonstrated an inability to perform past relevant work. The
ALJ found Plaintiff capable of performing sedentary work,
with additional limitations: she can perform unskilled,
repetitive, routine tasks in two-hour increments. She must be
able to alternate between sitting and standing at will
throughout the workday while remaining at the workstation.
She can occasionally stoop, squat, crouch, crawl, kneel, and
climb stairs and ramps. She can never climb ropes, ladders,
and scaffolds. She will be off-task at work up to 15% of the
time, but can still meet the minimum production requirements
of the job. She will have eight unexcused absences per year.
(AR 26.) With that assessment, the ALJ found Plaintiff able
to perform past relevant work as a telemarketer. (AR 32.)
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform past relevant
work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to demonstrate at
step five that the claimant retains the capacity to make an
adjustment to work that exists in significant levels in the
national economy. With the assistance of a VE, the ALJ found
Plaintiff capable of transitioning to other representative
occupations, such as order clerk, addresser, and final
assembler. (AR 32-34.)
Court's review of the ALJ's decision is limited to
whether the decision is in accordance with the law and the
findings supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole. See Penny v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 953, 956 (9th
Cir. 1993). Substantial evidence means more than a scintilla,
but less than a preponderance; it means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion. Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d
747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). If there is more than one rational
interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ's decision,
the Court must uphold that decision. Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002).
argues the ALJ erred in assessing the medical opinions and in
discounting her testimony. The Commissioner argues that the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence and
should be affirmed.