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
application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) 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, 1975. She has college and graduate degrees
and previously worked as a music teacher. (AR 38.)
protectively filed for DIB on March 2, 2015, alleging
disability beginning September 26, 2014. (AR 236.) The
application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
24, 2017, ALJ Timothy Mangrum held a hearing, taking
testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR
29-60.) He held a supplemental hearing, and took testimony
from plaintiff and a VE, on October 12, 2017. (AR 61-85.) On
February 16, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled. (AR 15-23.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on February 20, 2019 (AR 1), making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff appealed this final decision of the Commissioner to
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 that, while plaintiff had
an unsuccessful work attempt from September to December 2016,
she had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the
alleged onset date. At step two, it must be determined
whether a claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ
found plaintiff's affective disorder, anxiety disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obesity, and lumbar
degenerative disc disease severe. Step three asks whether a
claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed impairment.
The ALJ found plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
equal the criteria of a listed impairment.
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 able to perform light work, with the
ability to understand detailed and non-detailed instructions,
have incidental contact with the public (i.e., be in the
general vicinity of the public, but not working closely),
have occasional contact with co-workers, and would be
off-task and therefore non-productive and/or working at a
slower pace up to seven percent of the workday. With that
assessment, the ALJ found plaintiff unable to perform her
past relevant work.
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform past relevant
work, or has no 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 the VE, the ALJ found plaintiff capable of
performing other jobs, such as work as an office cleaner,
plastic products packager, and clerical assistant.
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). Accord Marsh v. Colvin, 792 F.3d 1170,
1172 (9th Cir. 2015) (“We will set aside a denial of
benefits only if the denial is unsupported by substantial
evidence in the administrative record or is based on legal
error.”) 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 ...