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Wells v. Colvin

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

June 10, 2014

CHRISTOPHER DAVID WELLS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Christopher David Wells ("Plaintiff") appeals the denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") offered specific and legitimate reasons for rejecting the opinion of an examining physician. The ALJ also stated sufficiently clear and convincing reasons to reject Plaintiff's testimony regarding his symptoms. Therefore, the ALJ's decision is affirmed.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his application for SSI benefits on October 27, 2008, alleging disability beginning October 1, 1998. In an unfavorable decision, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, and lumbar spine condition, but concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled because there was work available in significant numbers in the national and regional economies which he could perform. Administrative Record ("AR") 12-19.

II.

ISSUES PRESENTED

The parties dispute whether the ALJ erred in: (1) not fully crediting the opinion of the consultative examining physician, and (2) negatively assessing Plaintiff's credibility. See Joint Stipulation ("JS") at 2-3.

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 reviewing court "may not substitute its judgment" for that of the Commissioner. Id. at 720-21.

IV.

DISCUSSION

A. The ALJ Properly Considered the Opinion of the ...


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