United States District Court, C.D. California
JEFFREY S. CHARNEY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
JACQUELINE CHOOLJIAN, Magistrate Judge.
On September 24, 2013, plaintiff Jeffrey S. Charney ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15; September 26, 2013 Case Management Order ¶ 5.
Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material error.
II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
On September 15, 2010, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 221, 225). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on April 12, 2010, due to degenerative disc disease in his back and neck, bilateral carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome, loss of strength in his left hand and arm with difficulty writing, numbness and weakness in both legs, loss of muscle strength limiting movement of his left leg, widespread pain in all joints and muscles, arthritis, blurred vision with blindness in his right eye from birth, extreme fatigue, and widespread neurological issues. (AR 250). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert on January 30, 2012 and June 6, 2012. (AR 93-138).
On June 22, 2012, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 27-37). Specifically, the ALJ found: (1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: cervical and lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, status post-left cubital and carpal tunnel release surgery, obesity, fibromyalgia, and left knee meniscal tear (AR 29); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 32); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a), 416.967(a)) (AR 32); (4) plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work (AR 35); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform (AR 36); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 33-34).
The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1).
III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS
A. Sequential Evaluation Process
To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that the claimant is unable "to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." Molina v. Astrue , 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work the claimant previously performed and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel , 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)).
In assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is to follow a five-step sequential evaluation process:
(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step two.
(2) Is the claimant's alleged impairment sufficiently severe to limit the claimant's ability to work? If not, the claimant is not ...