United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE CANDY W. DALE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the Court is Neil Sharp's Petition for
Review of the Respondent's denial of social security
benefits, filed on June 13, 2018. (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 the decision of
AND FACTUAL HISTORY
filed an application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits under Title II and Title XVI of
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433, on
July 8, 2014. This application was denied initially and on
reconsideration, and a hearing was conducted on November 27,
2016, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Stephen
Marchioro. After considering testimony from Petitioner, a
medical expert, and a vocational expert, ALJ Marchioro issued
a decision on December 12, 2016, finding Petitioner not
disabled. Petitioner timely requested review by the Appeals
Council, which denied his request for review on April 13,
timely 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 alleged disability onset date of May 16, 2014,
Petitioner was thirty-two years of age. Petitioner completed
the seventh grade and did not complete additional formal
education. His past relevant work experience includes work as
a construction laborer.
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation for
determining whether a claimant is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step one, it must
be determined whether the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity. The ALJ found Petitioner had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of
May 16, 2014. At step two, it must be determined whether the
claimant suffers from a severe impairment. The ALJ found
Petitioner's degenerative disc disease, baker's cyst
(left knee), major depressive disorder, social phobia
disorder, and intermittent explosive/impulse control disorder
severe within the meaning of the Regulations.
three asks whether a claimant's impairments meet or equal
a listed impairment. The ALJ found that Petitioner's
musculoskeletal and mental impairments did not meet or equal
the criteria for any listed impairment. The ALJ considered
Listings 1.04 (Spine Disorders), 1.02 (Major Dysfunction of a
Joint), 12.04 (Depressive Disorders), and 12.06 (Anxiety
Disorders). (AR 216-216.) If a claimant's impairments do
not meet or equal a listing, the Commissioner must assess the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC) and then
determine, at step four, whether the claimant has
demonstrated an inability to perform past relevant work.
determined Petitioner retained the RFC to perform sedentary
work as defined by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a), with
limitations. The ALJ found Petitioner could occasionally
operate foot controls with his left lower extremity;
occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb ropes,
ladders and scaffolds; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; and that he must avoid all use of
unguarded moving mechanical parts and exposure to unprotected
heights. The ALJ further limited Petitioner to performing
work tasks consisting of only simple, routine, repetitive
tasks, with occasional interaction with the public,
coworkers, and supervisors.
determining Petitioner's RFC, the ALJ found that
Petitioner's impairments could reasonably be expected to
cause the symptoms he alleged, but that his statements about
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his
conditions were not entirely consistent with the medical
evidence, his treatment history, and his daily activities.
(AR 219.) In doing so, the ALJ considered the opinions of
Petitioner's treating providers, Dr. Gardner and Howard
Carroll, LCPC. The ALJ found that a review of the medical
evidence did not support Dr. Gardner's medical source
statement limiting Petitioner to sitting for one out of every
eight hours and standing and walking for less than one out of
every eight hours, or his opinion that Petitioner had
significant bilateral manipulative and reaching limitations.
(AR 222.) However, the ALJ credited Dr. Gardner's opinion
in terms of its “consistency with a sedentary RFC,
” according that aspect of the opinion
gave Howard Carroll's mental RFC opinion “little
weight, ” finding his opinion that Petitioner suffered
from extreme and marked limitations in several areas of
social interaction “inconsistent with the
claimant's treatment notes” from multiple
providers. The ALJ found also that Carroll's opinions
were inconsistent with those of Dr. Farnsworth, who provided
an opinion as a consulting psychologist and testified at the
hearing. Dr. Farnsworth's opinion is that Petitioner had
mild limitations in most aspects of his social functioning,
as he was stabilized with medication. (AR 223.) The ALJ
nonetheless gave Dr. Farsnworth's opinion “partial
weight, ” because of its inconsistency with
Petitioner's testimony and treatment evidence. (AR 223.)
upon his evaluation of the record and the hypothetical posed
to the vocational expert, the ALJ found Petitioner was able
to perform work as a touch-up inspector, spotter (table
worker), and dowel inspector, all of which are sedentary jobs
available in significant numbers in the national economy.
Consequently, the ALJ determined Petitioner was not disabled.
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 his physical or mental impairments are of
such severity that he not only cannot do her previous work
but is unable, considering his 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