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, 1961. She obtained a GED and previously
worked as an administrative assistant and senior secretary.
(AR 27, 51.)
protectively filed a DIB application in May 2016, alleging
disability beginning June 6, 2015. (AR 192.) The application
was denied at the initial level and on reconsideration.
March 26, 2018, ALJ Rebecca Jones held a hearing, taking
testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR
35-86.) Plaintiff amended her onset date to March 15, 2016.
On May 25, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff
not disabled. (AR 15-29.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on March 19, 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 plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged
onset date. At step two, it must be determined whether a
claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ found
plaintiff's major depressive disorder vs. bipolar
disorder, anxiety disorder, and substance abuse disorder
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 can
perform past relevant work. The ALJ found plaintiff able to
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, but
with the following non-exertional limitations: simple,
routine, repetitive tasks in an environment free of
fast-paced production requirements, involving only simple
work-related decisions, and few, if any, workplace changes;
work that does not require contact with the public;
occasional superficial contact with co-workers and occasional
contact with supervisors after initial training period. With
that RFC, the ALJ found plaintiff unable to perform her past
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 helper,
mailroom clerk, and laundry sorter.
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 ...