United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CRAIG M. KELLISON, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, who is proceeding with retained counsel, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Pursuant to the written consent of all parties, this case is before the undersigned as the presiding judge for all purposes, including entry of final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 18) and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 20).
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff applied for social security benefits on February 2, 2010. In the application, plaintiff claims that disability began on May 30, 2006. Plaintiff's claim was initially denied. Following denial of reconsideration, plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on August 11, 2011, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Carol L. Buck. In a September 15, 2011, decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff is not disabled based on the following relevant findings:
1. The claimant has the following severe impairment(s): bipolar disorder, depression type, panic attack disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse disorder, substance abuse disorder in remission, status post left ankle fracture, and obesity;
2. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals an impairment listed in the regulations;
3. The claimant has the following residual functional capacity: the claimant is capable of light work; she can lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; she can stand/walk for 2 to 4 hours in an 8-hour day; she can sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour day; she can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she can frequently stoop, balance, kneel, crouch, or crawl; the claimant is limited to unskilled work with limited public contact; she cannot perform tandem work, in that she cannot work with another where she is required to work together with another to process the work; and
4. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, residual functional capacity, and vocational expert testimony, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
After the Appeals Council declined review on July 9, 2012, this appeal followed.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court reviews the Commissioner's final decision to determine whether it is: (1) based on proper legal standards; and (2) supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. See Tackett v. Apfel , 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). "Substantial evidence" is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. See Saelee v. Chater , 94 F.3d 520, 521 (9th Cir. 1996). It is "... such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 402 (1971). The record as a whole, including both the evidence that supports and detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion, must be considered and weighed. See Howard v. Heckler , 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986); Jones v. Heckler , 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court may not affirm the Commissioner's decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. See Hammock v. Bowen , 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence supporting a particular finding, the finding of the Commissioner is conclusive. See Sprague v. Bowen , 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987). Therefore, where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, one of which supports the Commissioner's decision, the decision must be affirmed, see Thomas v. Barnhart , 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002), and may be set aside only if an improper legal standard was applied in weighing the evidence, see Burkhart v. Bowen , 856 F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988).
In her motion for summary judgment, plaintiff argues: (1) the ALJ's vocational finding is not supported by substantial evidence as to the number of representative jobs; (2) the ALJ erred in giving lay witness evidence from plaintiff's boyfriend, Robert Myers; and (3) the ALJ erred in ...