United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Shirley June Trepanier ("Plaintiff") appeals the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. The Court concludes that the ALJ offered specific and legitimate reasons for rejecting the opinion of her treating physician and that any error was harmless. Therefore, the ALJ's decision is affirmed.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on August 22, 2006, alleging disability beginning July 1, 2004. Administrative Record ("AR") 9. Her application was denied by an ALJ in a decision dated March 28, 2008, but was remanded by the Appeals Council on grounds unrelated to this appeal. AR 61-71, 73-75. Following the receipt of additional evidence, including testimony from Plaintiff, a medical expert, and a vocational expert, an ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following medically determinable impairments: atypical headaches, migrainous in nature; mild myofascial pain disorder; mild degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine; chronic iron deficiency anemia; history of vertigo; and history of gastritis. AR 11. The ALJ found that these impairments in combination were severe. AR 12. The ALJ concluded, however, that Plaintiff was not disabled because there was work available in significant numbers in the national and regional economies that she could perform. AR 17-18.
The parties dispute whether the ALJ erred in assessing the opinion of Plaintiff's treating neurologist, Dr. Faisal Qazi. See Joint Stipulation ("JS") at 3, 12.
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.
Plaintiff contends that the ALJ failed to provide specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence for giving "little weight" to Dr. Qazi's opinion as expressed in a November ...