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Gonzalez-Gooley v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 29, 2014

OLGA LIDIA GONZALEZ-GOOLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SHERI PYM, Magistrate Judge.

I.

INTRODUCTION

On May 7, 2013, plaintiff Olga Gonzalez-Gooley filed a complaint against defendant, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner"), seeking review of a denial of Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed before the assigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(c). The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

Plaintiff presents one disputed issue for decision: whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred in finding plaintiff's migraines to be non-severe. Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl. Mem.") at 2.

Having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' written submissions and the Administrative Record ("AR"), the court concludes that, as detailed herein, there is substantial evidence in the record, taken as whole, to support the ALJ's decision. Firstly, the ALJ properly determined plaintiff lacked objective medical evidence at step two. Secondly, even if the ALJ did err, such an error was harmless as the ALJ fully considered plaintiff's migraine symptoms when determining her residual functional capacity ("RFC"). Therefore, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision denying benefits.

II.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, who was forty-five years old on her alleged disability onset date, is a high school graduate. AR at 29, 122. Her past work experience includes positions as a telemarketer, door-to-door sales representative, and inventory clerk, and a collections clerk. AR at 48-49, 147-50.

On January 26, 2011, plaintiff filed an application for SSI alleging disability beginning on March 22, 2009 due to: brain tumor, tendonitis on hips, tumor on back growth, severe headaches, blurry vision, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, lack of mobility in the arms, inability to lift arms, lack of concentration and focus, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and bleeding ulcers. AR at 122, 139.

On November 30, 2012, plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. AR at 26-47. The ALJ also heard testimony from Gregory Jones, a vocational expert. AR at 48-56.

On January 24, 2013, the ALJ denied plaintiff's request for SSI benefits. AR 8-18. Applying the well known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her January 26, 2011 application date. AR at 10. While plaintiff did work after the application date, it "did not rise to the level of substantial gainful activity." Id.

At step two, the ALJ found plaintiff suffers from the following severe impairments: bilateral shoulder impingement, low back strain, and degenerative joint disease of the hips. AR at 10-13.

At step three, the ALJ found plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 ...


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