United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
W. Dale, U.S. Magistrate Judge
pending before the Court for its consideration is Ricki Lee
Moen's Petition for Review of the Respondent's denial
of social security benefits, filed September 20, 2017. (Dkt.
1.) The Court has reviewed the Petition for Review and the
Answer, the parties' memoranda, and the administrative
record (AR), and for the reasons that follow, will remand to
AND FACTUAL HISTORY
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits and
Supplemental Security Income on November 25, 2013, claiming
Title II disability insurance benefits. This application was
denied initially and on reconsideration, and a hearing was
held on May 25, 2016, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Jesse K. Shumway. After hearing testimony from Petitioner,
vocational expert Thomas A. Polsin, medical experts Haddon
Christopher Alexander, III, M.D., and Philip J. Gelber, M.D.,
ALJ Shumway issued a decision finding Petitioner not disabled
on June 21, 2016. Petitioner timely requested review by the
Appeals Council, which denied her request for review on June
appealed this final decision to the Court. The Court has
jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
time of the hearing, Petitioner was 33 years of age.
Petitioner has less than a high school education, completing
through the 11th grade. Petitioner's prior work
experience includes work as a cashier/checker and stock
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Preliminarily, the ALJ
found that Petitioner had disability insurance coverage on
December 31, 2013, which means Petitioner had to prove she
was disabled by that date. At step one, it must be determined
whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. The ALJ found that, although Petitioner worked
after the date she alleges she became disabled, September 30,
2013, the work did not rise to the level of substantial
two, it must be determined whether the claimant suffers from
a severe impairment. The ALJ found Petitioner's
ankylosing spondylitis (inflammatory arthritis) and uveitis
(inflammation of the eye) severe within the meaning of the
three asks whether a claimant's impairments meet or equal
a listed impairment. The ALJ found that, through the date
last insured of December 31, 2013, Petitioner's
impairments did not meet or equal the criteria for the listed
impairments, specifically, for ankylosing spondylitis, under
Listings 14.09C and 14.09D. See 20 C.F.R., Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1.
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listing,
the Commissioner must assess the claimant's residual
functional capacity (RFC) and determine, at step four,
whether the claimant has demonstrated an inability to perform
past relevant work. The ALJ found Petitioner was not able to
perform her past relevant work as a cashier/checker, a
combination light job with a specific vocational preparation,
and also was not able to perform her past relevant work as a
stock clerk, a heavy job. (AR 28.)
claimant demonstrates an inability to perform 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 other work that exists in significant levels
in the national economy, after considering the claimant's
residual functional capacity, age, education and work
experience. At step five, the ALJ determined Petitioner
retained the capacity to perform a range of light work, with
a restriction to no work requiring depth perception due to
her sight limitations. The ALJ cited representative light
work jobs such as a small parts assembler, cafeteria
attendant, and a housekeeper. The ALJ found further that
Petitioner retained the capacity to perform representative
sedentary jobs, with the same depth perception limitation,
such as order clerk, cashier, and charge account clerk. Thus,
the ALJ found Petitioner not disabled from the alleged onset
date, September 30, 2012, though the last date of her last
insurance coverage, December 31, 2013.
bears the burden of showing that disability benefits are
proper because of the inability “to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which . . . has
lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of
not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A); see also 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(A); Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920,
921 (9th Cir. 1971). An individual will be determined to be
disabled only if her physical or mental impairments are of
such severity that she not only cannot do her previous work
but is unable, considering her age, education, and work
experience, to engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C.
review, the Court is instructed to uphold the decision of the
Commissioner if the decision is supported by substantial
evidence and is not the product of legal error. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Universal Camera Corp. v. Nat'l Labor
Relations Bd., 340 U.S. 474 (1951); Meanel v.
Apfel, 172 F.3d 1111, 1113 (9th Cir. 1999) (as amended);
DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir.
1991). 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). It is more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance, Jamerson v Chater, 112 F.3d 1064,
1066 (9th Cir. 1997), and “does not mean a large or
considerable amount of evidence.” Pierce v.
Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988).
Court cannot disturb the Commissioner's findings if they
are supported by substantial evidence, even though other
evidence may exist that supports the Petitioner's claims.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Flaten v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995).
Thus, findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if
supported by substantial evidence, will be conclusive.
Flaten, 44 F.3d at 1457. It is well-settled that, if
there is substantial evidence to support the decision of the
Commissioner, the decision must be upheld even when the
evidence can reasonably support either affirming or reversing
the Commissioner's decision, because the Court “may
not substitute [its] judgment for that of the
Commissioner.” Verduzco v. Apfel, 188 F.3d
1087, 1089 (9th Cir. 1999).
reviewing a case under the substantial evidence standard, the
Court may question an ALJ's credibility assessment of a
witness's testimony; however, an ALJ's credibility
assessment is entitled to great weight, and the ALJ may
disregard a claimant's self-serving statements.
Rashad v. Sullivan, 903 F.2d 1229, 1231 (9th Cir.
1990). Where the ALJ makes a careful consideration of
subjective complaints but provides adequate reasons for
rejecting them, the ALJ's well-settled role as ...