United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL
ALICE THEILER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
proceeds through counsel in his appeal of a final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's
application for 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, 1977. He has a GED and previously worked as a
cashier, construction worker, and lumber handler. (AR 35,
protectively filed an SSI application on May 24, 2016,
alleging disability beginning June 1, 2008. (AR 192.) The
application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
3, 2018, ALJ Stephanie Martz held a hearing, taking testimony
from plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE). (AR 30-57.) On
September 4, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding
plaintiff not disabled. (AR 15-25.)
timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review on May 21, 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 application date.
At step two, it must be determined whether a claimant suffers
from a severe impairment. The ALJ found plaintiff's
degenerative disc disease lumbar spine, affective disorder,
anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and history
of substance abuse 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 sedentary work, with additional limitations: sit
about six hours and stand and/or walk two hours with regular
breaks; unlimited ability to push/pull; frequently climb
ramps and stairs; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
frequently balance and kneel; occasionally stoop, crouch, and
crawl; avoid concentrated exposure to wetness, vibration, and
hazards; understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine
tasks; occasional brief contact with coworkers, but should
work independently, not on team or tandem tasks; should not
work with the general public; and can adapt to occasional
changes in the workplace. With that RFC, the ALJ found
plaintiff unable to perform his 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 a bench hand, table
worker, and hand bander.
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 ...