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Smith v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 6, 2002

CHRISTINE SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES F. EICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint on March 21, 2017, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits. The parties filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on April 20, 2017. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on August 18, 2017. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on October 23, 2017. The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; "Order, " filed March 27, 2017.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff asserted disability based on several alleged impairments (Administrative Record ("A.R.") 167-76, 195). The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert (A.R. 14-681). The ALJ found Plaintiff has several severe impairments but retains the residual functional capacity to perform a restricted range of light work (A.R. 19-25). In accordance with the vocational expert's testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff can perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy (A.R. 26, 42-43). The Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 1-3).

         SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S ARGUMENT

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by rejecting a non-examining state agency physician's opinion that Plaintiff assertedly is limited to sedentary work.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012). 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) (citation and quotations omitted); see also Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2006) .

If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the Commissioner's decision cannot be affirmed simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather, a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the [administrative] conclusion.

Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citations and quotations omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         After consideration of the record as a whole, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's motion is denied. The Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material[1] legal error. Plaintiff's contrary argument is unavailing.

         In rejecting the non-examining state agency physician's opinion limiting Plaintiff to sedentary work, [2] the ALJ cited, inter alia, the conflicting opinion of Dr. Sedgh, an examining physician (A.R. 24). Dr. Sedgh opined Plaintiff can perform light work (A.R. 335). Generally, "greater weight is accorded to the opinion of an examining physician than a non-examining physician." Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 1995); 20 C.F.R. ยงยง 404.1527(c)(1), 416.927(c)(1). In fact, the opinion of a non-examining physician, without more, cannot constitute ...


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