United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge
filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), for
judicial review of Defendant's denial of his application
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 73 and Local Rule MJR 13, the parties have
consented to have this matter heard by the undersigned
Magistrate Judge. See Dkt. 2.
considering the record, the Court concludes Plaintiff has
failed to show the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) erred when he found Plaintiff's ankle
impairments did not meet or equal Listing 1.02A. Further,
Plaintiff has not shown the ALJ erred in his consideration of
the medical evidence, Plaintiff's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) assessment, or the vocational
expert's testimony. Accordingly, the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
March 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB,
alleging disability as of March 1, 2007. See Dkt. 9,
Administrative Record (“AR”) 15. The application
was denied upon initial administrative review and on
reconsideration. See AR 14. A hearing was held
before ALJ Eric S. Basse. See AR 46-93. At the
hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to March 1,
2008. See AR 15, 51-52. On January 22, 2018, the ALJ
entered a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. AR 15-36.
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision
was denied by the Appeals Council, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. See
AR 1-5, 20 C.F.R. § 404.981, § 416.1481.
Opening Brief, Plaintiff maintains the ALJ erred by failing
to properly: (1) consider whether Plaintiff met Listing
1.02A; (2) consider the medical opinion evidence; (3)
evaluate the RFC and vocational expert's testimony; and
(4) support the decision with the evidence of record. Dkt.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if 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 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005)
(citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Whether the ALJ erred in failing to find Plaintiff's
ankle impairments met Listing 1.02A at Step
Three of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ considers
whether one or more of the claimant's impairments meets
or equals an impairment listed in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of
the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). Each
Listing sets forth the “symptoms, signs, and laboratory
findings” which must be established in order for a
claimant's impairment to meet the Listing. Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1099 (9th Cir. 1999). If a
claimant meets or equals a Listing, the claimant is
considered disabled without further inquiry. See 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(d).
burden of proof is on the claimant to establish he meets or
equals any of the impairments in the Listings. See
Tacket, 180 F.3d at 1098. “A generalized assertion
of functional problems, ” however, “is not enough
to establish disability at step three.” Id. at
1100 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1526). A mental or physical
impairment “must result from anatomical, physiological,
or psychological abnormalities which can be shown by
medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic
techniques.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1508. It must be
established by medical evidence “consisting of signs,
symptoms, and laboratory findings.” Id.;
see also Social Security Ruling (“SSR”)
96-8p, 1996 WL 374184 *2 (a step three determination must be
made on basis of medical factors alone). An impairment meets
a listed impairment “only when it manifests the
specific findings described in the set of medical criteria
for that listed impairment.” SSR 83-19, 1983 WL 31248
argues the ALJ erred by failing to find Plaintiff's ankle
impairments met or equaled Listing 1.02A. Dkt. 15, pp. 5-6.
Listing 1.02A pertains to major disfunction of a joint
involving one major peripheral weight-bearing joint resulting
in an inability to ambulate effectively. 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1§ 1.02A.
Inability to ambulate effectively means an extreme limitation
of the ability to walk; i.e., an impairment(s) that
interferes very seriously with the individual's ability
to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities.
Ineffective ambulation is defined generally as having
insufficient lower extremity functioning (see 1.00J) to
permit independent ambulation without the ...