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Garcia v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

April 7, 2014

GRACIELA NAVARRO GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff appeals from the denial of her application for Social Security benefits. On appeal, the Court concludes that the administrative law judge ("ALJ") erred in failing to consider whether Plaintiff is disabled under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1562(b). Therefore, the Court reverses the ALJ's decision and remands to the ALJ for consideration of Plaintiff's contention that § 404.1562(b) entitles her to a finding of disability.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed applications for social security disability insurance ("SSDI") benefits and supplemental security income ("SSI"), alleging disability beginning January 1, 2006. Administrative Record ("AR") 20-21. After an unfavorable initial decision by the ALJ, the Appeals Council reversed for reconsideration of Plaintiff's work history. AR 111-12. In the decision on remand, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled because she could perform work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. AR 33-34. The ALJ did not expressly address the question of 20 C.F.R. § 404.1562(b), the subject of the parties' dispute in this appeal.

II.

ISSUE PRESENTED

The parties dispute whether the ALJ was required to find that Plaintiff was disabled pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1562(b).[1] See Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Complaint ("Plaintiff's Br.") at 5-10; Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Answer ("Defendant's Br.") at 2-7.

III.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's findings and decision should be upheld if they are free from legal error and are supported by substantial evidence based on the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Parra v. Astrue , 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson , 402 U.S. at 401; Lingenfelter v. Astrue , 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). It is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Lingenfelter , 504 F.3d at 1035 (citing 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 reasonably support either affirming or reversing, the Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Tackett v. Apfel , 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999).

IV.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff contends that she is entitled to a finding of disability under 20 C.F.R. § ...


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