United States District Court, D. Arizona
Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge
Jerome Wringer seeks review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(Commissioner) denying his application for supplemental
security income and disability insurance benefits. Because
the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is
supported by substantial evidence and is not based on legal
error, the Commissioner’s decision is affirmed.
is 67 years old and has an eleventh grade education. (A.R.
18.) He last worked as an automobile service manager. (Doc.
12 at 1.) The business closed in 2008, and he has not worked
since that time. (A.R. 21.) Wringer reported looking for work
in March 2012, immediately before he applied for benefits.
(Id. at 761.) He alleges disability due to chronic
back pain, nerve damage, hernia, irregular heartbeat, left
eye blindness, sleep apnea, and anxiety. (Id. at
March 16, 2012, Wringer applied for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income, alleging
disability beginning March 1, 2008. (Id. at 11.) On
May 14, 2014, he appeared with his attorney and testified at
a hearing before the ALJ. A vocational expert also testified.
25, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision that Wringer was not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. The
Appeals Counsel denied Wringer’s request for review of
the hearing decision, making the ALJ’s decision the
Commissioner’s final decision. On December 16, 2015,
Wringer sought review by this Court.
district court reviews only those issues raised by the party
challenging the ALJ’s decision. See Lewis v.
Apfel, 236 F.3d 503, 517 n.13 (9th Cir. 2001). The court
may set aside the Commissioner’s disability
determination only if the determination is not supported by
substantial evidence or is based on legal error. Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and relevant evidence that a reasonable person might accept
as adequate to support a conclusion considering the record as
a whole. Id. In determining whether substantial
evidence supports a decision, the court must consider the
record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a
“specific quantum of supporting evidence.”
Id. As a general rule, “[w]here the evidence
is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, one
of which supports the ALJ’s decision, the ALJ’s
conclusion must be upheld.” Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002) (citations
Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process
determine whether a claimant is disabled for purposes of the
Social Security Act, the ALJ follows a five-step process. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). The claimant bears the burden of
proof on the first four steps, but at step five, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner. Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999).
first step, the ALJ determines whether the claimant is
engaging in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i). If so, the claimant is not disabled and
the inquiry ends. Id. At step two, the ALJ
determines whether the claimant has a “severe”
medically determinable physical or mental impairment. §
404.1520(a)(4)(ii). If not, the claimant is not disabled and
the inquiry ends. Id. At step three, the ALJ
considers whether the claimant’s impairment or
combination of impairments meets or medically equals an
impairment listed in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of 20 C.F.R. Pt.
404. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If so, the claimant is
automatically found to be disabled. Id. If not, the
ALJ proceeds to step four. At step four, the ALJ assesses the
claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC) and
determines whether the claimant is still capable of
performing past relevant work. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If
so, the claimant is not disabled and the inquiry ends.
Id. If not, the ALJ proceeds to the fifth and final
step, where he determines whether the claimant can perform
any other work based on the claimant’s RFC, age,
education, and work experience. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v). If
so, the claimant is not disabled. Id. If not, the
claimant is disabled. Id.
one, the ALJ found that Wringer meets the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31,
2013, and that he has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 12, 2008. (A.R. 13.) At step two, the
ALJ found that Wringer has the following severe impairments:
left ear decreased hearing, blindness in left eye,
depression, mild cognitive impairment, and anxiety.
(Id.) At step three, the ALJ determined that Wringer
does not have an impairment or ...