The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marc L. Goldman United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Marylou Courie seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her applications for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.
Plaintiff was born on October 7, 1958. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 22, 201.) She has a sixth grade education and has work experience as a telemarketer. (AR at 33, 159.) Plaintiff filed her applications on September 18, 2008, alleging disability since September 15, 2008 due to obesity, left and right knee pain, chronic kidney disease, possible pulmonary emphysema, anxiety disorder and depression. (AR at 14, 65-68.)
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially on May 21, 2009, and upon reconsideration on November 16, 2009. (AR at 69-73, 76-81.) An administrative hearing was held on November 3, 2010, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Mason D. Harrell, Jr. Plaintiff, represented by counsel, testified, as did Medical Expert ("ME") Dr. Samuel Landau and Vocational Expert ("VE") David A. Rinehart. (AR at 31-64.)
On December 10, 2010, ALJ Harrell issued an unfavorable decision. (AR at 8-24.) The ALJ found that the Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. (AR at 14.) The ALJ further found that, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. 416.920(c), the medical evidence established that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: obesity, mild osteoarthritis of the right knee, internal derangement of the left knee post arthroscopic surgery, stage 2-3 chronic kidney disease, possible pulmonary emphysema, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. (Id.) However, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet, or were not medically equal to, one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id.)
The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work with the following limitations: the claimant can stand and/or walk for 2 hours out of an 8-hour workday, for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, with the use of a cane as needed; the claimant is precluded from work on uneven surfaces; the claimant can sit for 8 hours out of an 8- hour workday with normal breaks, such as every two hours; the claimant can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; the claimant can occasionally stoop and bend; the claimant is precluded from climbing ladders but can climb stairs; the claimant is precluded from work at heights or work with balancing requirements; the claimant is precluded from squatting, kneeling, crawling, running, jumping or pivoting; the claimant cannot operate foot pedals or controls on the right-side, however, there are no restrictions on the left-side; the claimant's work environment should be as clean as possible and air conditioned to minimize inhaled pollutants; the claimant is precluded from high stress or fast paced work, either physically or mentally; the claimant is precluded from intense interactions with co-workers, supervisors or the public; the claimant is limited to frequent use of her hands. (AR at 15-16.)
The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff's impairments prevented her from performing her past relevant work. (AR at 22.) However, based on the VE's testimony, the ALJ found that there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (AR at 22-23.) The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(f). (AR at 23.)
On December 20, 2011, the Appeals Council denied review (AR at 1-3). Plaintiff then timely commenced this action for judicial review. On July 23, 2012, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("Joint Stip.") of disputed facts and issues. Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by:
(1) improperly concluding at step three of the sequential process that Plaintiff's impairments did not medically meet or equal a listed impairment and (2) failing to perform a proper credibility analysis. (Joint Stip. at 3.) Plaintiff seeks reversal of the Commissioner's denial of her application and payment of benefits or, in the alternative, remand for a new administrative hearing. (Joint Stip. at 25.) The Commissioner requests that the ALJ's decision be affirmed. (Joint Stip. at 26.)
Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The Commissioner's or ALJ's decision must be upheld unless "the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or are not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole." Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1990); Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2006). It is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, the reviewing court "must review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion." Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1996). "If the evidence can support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion," the reviewing court "may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ." Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882.
A. The ALJ Properly Determined That Plaintiff's Impairments Do Not Meet or ...