United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
T. RODGERS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment.
ECF No. 14, 15. Attorney Dana Chris Madsen represents Timothy
D. (Plaintiff); Special Assistant United States Attorney
Jeffrey R. McClain represents the Commissioner of Social
Security (Defendant). The parties have consented to proceed
before a magistrate judge. ECF No. 4. After reviewing the
administrative record and the briefs filed by the parties,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment and DENIES Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits on
December 31, 2015, alleging disability since May 29, 2010,
to PTSD, major depressive disorder, adjustment disorder,
acute social anxiety disorder, ADHD, COPD, umbilical hernia,
tinnitus, left hand cramping, and difficulties with balance.
Tr. 146-47. The application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Tr. 191-93, 195-96. Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) Marie Palachuk held a hearing on May 24, 2017, Tr.
89-119, and issued an unfavorable decision on September 26,
2017, Tr. 16-32. Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council. Tr. 259, 349-54. The Appeals Council denied the
request for review on July 30, 2018. Tr. 1-6. The ALJ's
September 2017 decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner, which is appealable to the district court
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff filed this
action for judicial review on September 27, 2018. ECF No. 1,
was born in 1958 and was 57 years old as of his date last
insured in 2015. Tr. 30. He has a high school diploma and an
associate's degree in electronics from Spokane Community
College. Tr. 101, 375. He worked for many years as an ATM
repairman. Tr. 103, 385, 515. In 2010, he was dismissed from
his job due to errors. Id. He reported an inability
to continue working due to declining cognitive abilities. Tr.
386, 397, 407, 536. He applied for disability in 2011 and was
denied by an ALJ in 2013. Tr. 123. He testified that since
his prior application, his balance had gotten worse, and he
continued to be limited by breathing problems, headaches,
abdominal pain, hand cramping, and mental health
difficulties. Tr. 103-09.
is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995). The ALJ's determinations of law are reviewed
de novo, with deference to a reasonable
interpretation of the applicable statutes. McNatt v.
Apfel, 201 F.3d 1084, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000). The decision
of the ALJ may be reversed only if it is not supported by
substantial evidence or if it is based on legal error.
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir.
1999). Substantial evidence is defined as being more than a
mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Id.
at 1098. Put another way, substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). If the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1097; Morgan v.
Commissioner of Social Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599
(9th Cir. 1999). If substantial evidence supports the
administrative findings, or if conflicting evidence supports
a finding of either disability or non-disability, the
ALJ's determination is conclusive. Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-1230 (9th Cir. 1987).
Nevertheless, a decision supported by substantial evidence
will be set aside if the proper legal standards were not
applied in weighing the evidence and making the decision.
Brawner v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
839 F.2d 432, 433 (9th Cir. 1988).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a); Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-142 (1987). In steps one
through four, the burden of proof rests upon the claimant to
establish a prima facie case of entitlement to disability
benefits. Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-1099. This
burden is met once a claimant establishes that a physical or
mental impairment prevents the claimant from engaging in past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). If a claimant
cannot perform past relevant work, the ALJ proceeds to step
five, and the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show (1)
the claimant can make an adjustment to other work; and (2)
the claimant can perform specific jobs that exist in the
national economy. Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193-94 (9th Cir. 2004). If a
claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work in the
national economy, the claimant will be found disabled. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v).
September 26, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the Social Security
one, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity from the alleged onset date through the date
last insured of December 31, 2015. Tr. 19.
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety
disorder, personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactive
disorder, history of umbilical hernia, and mild obesity.
three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments. Tr. 19-23.
assessed Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
and found he could perform work at the medium exertional