The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Oswald Parada United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION; ORDER
The Court now rules as follows with respect to the disputed issue listed in*fn1 the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2
As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the sole disputed issue raised by Plaintiff as the ground for reversal and/or remand is whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly addressed Plaintiff's ability to perform work available at the regional and national levels at Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. (JS at 3.)
Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla" but less than a preponderance. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971); Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 575-76 (9th Cir. 1988). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (citation omitted). The Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 529-30 (9th Cir. 1986). Where evidence is susceptible of more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld. Gallant v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1984).
The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the severe impairments of adjustment disorder with depression; borderline intellectual functioning; obesity; anemia; and status post gastric bypass surgery. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 11.) The ALJ also found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a range of light work, and that Plaintiff is able to understand, remember, and carry out simple, repetitive tasks, with one to two step instructions, and occasionally interact with the public and co-workers. (Id. at 14.)
The ALJ concluded that considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform. (Id. at 20.) To determine the extent to which Plaintiff's limitations erode the unskilled light occupational base, the ALJ asked the VE whether jobs exist in the national economy for an individual with Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC. Relying on the testimony of the VE, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff would be able to perform such occupations as table worker (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") No. 739.687-182), and assembler of electrical equipment (DOT No. 729.687-010), both positions which exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (AR at 20.)
B. The ALJ Properly Addressed Plaintiff's Ability to Perform Unskilled Work at Step Five of His Analysis.
Plaintiff contends that although the hypothetical questions the ALJ posed to the VE took into account the fact that Plaintiff is illiterate, the RFC and the hypothetical questions failed to take into account Plaintiff's longer "learning curve." (JS at 4.) Specifically, Plaintiff relies on the August 30, 2008, report of Dr. Jeannette K. Townsend, Ph.D. (AR at 202-07.) In that report, Dr. Townsend indicated, without elaboration, that although Plaintiff could do a simple, repetitive task, "[b]ecause of her memory impairment she would need more repetitions and take longer to learn basic work procedures." (JS at 4 (citing AR at 206).) Plaintiff contends that the hypothetical questions did not include this element of Dr. Townsend's opinions and that the jobs identified by the VE, with a specific vocational preparation ("SVP") of 2 are, therefore, beyond Plaintiff's capabilities.
Hoever, SVP is a term of art used in the DOT to classify "how long it generally takes to learn the job." Terry v. Sullivan, 903 F.2d 1273, 1276 (9th Cir. 1990) (emphasis added). The regulations contain definitions for the skill requirements for particular jobs, which are classified as "unskilled," "semi-skilled," and "skilled." For example, 20 C.F.R. sections 404.1568 and 416.968 define "unskilled work" as that "which needs little or no judgment to do simple duties that can be learned on the job in a short period of time." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1568(a), 404.968(a). A job is deemed unskilled if "a person can usually learn to do the job in 30 days, and little specific vocational preparation and judgment are needed." Id. § 404.1568(a). The regulations specifically state that the definitions for different gradients of "skill" level are made in accord with the Department of Labor's DOT. Id. § 404.1568 ("[O]ccupations are classified as unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled. In classifying these occupations, we use materials published by the Department of Labor."). Social Security Ruling 00-4p notes that, the DOT lists an SVP for each described occupation. "Using the skill level definitions in [20 C.F.R. § § 404.1568] and 416.968, unskilled work corresponds to an SVP of 1-2; semi-skilled work corresponds to an SVP of 3-4; and skilled work corresponds to an SVP of 5-9 in the DOT." Soc. Sec. Ruling 00-4p. An SVP level of 1 consists of unskilled jobs that can be learned after a short demonstration only, while an SVP level of 2 are those jobs that require "[a]nything beyond short demonstration up to and including 1 month." 20 C.F.R. § 404.1568 (a); see also DOT, App'x C, "Components of the Definition Trailer" (4th ed. 1991) (emphasis added); Terry, 903 F.2d at 1276 (holding that unskilled jobs are those that have an SVP of 30 days or less).
With respect to Dr. Townsend's report, the ALJ specifically noted that he gave "significant weight, but not controlling weight," to that opinion. (AR at 18.) He noted that Dr. Townsend determined "that at all relevant times [Plaintiff] has been able to understand, remember, and carry out simple, repetitive tasks, with one to two step instructions, and she can occasionally interact with the public and co-workers." (Id.) He also noted Dr. Townsend's belief that Plaintiff's score on the Test of Memory ...