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Combs v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 8, 2014

SAMANTHA M. COMBS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SHERI PYM, Magistrate Judge.

I.

INTRODUCTION

On November 7, 2013, plaintiff Samantha Combs filed a complaint against the Commissioner of Social Security Administration ("Commissioner"), seeking a review of a denial of Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes 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") improperly rejected the opinion of one of plaintiff's treating physicians, Dr. Dharmarajan Ramaswamy.

Having carefully studied the parties's written submissions, the Administrative Record ("AR"), and the decision of the ALJ, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, the ALJ properly gave little weight to Dr. Ramaswamy's opinion, and any error made by the ALJ was harmless. Therefore, the court affirms the decision of the Commissioner denying benefits.

II.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was forty-two years old on her SSI application date. AR 131. She has past relevant work experience as a food checker. AR 157.

On August 24, 2010, plaintiff applied for SSI due to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and vision problems. AR 131, 146. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which she requested a hearing. AR 68-78, 81.

On July 25, 2012, plaintiff, represented by council, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. AR 25, 32-39. Dr. David Anderson, a medical expert, and Tory Scott, a vocational expert, also testified. AR at 27-32, 39-41.

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 August 24, 2010 application date. AR 12.

At step two, the ALJ found plaintiff suffers from the following severe impairments: arthritis; lupus; obesity; moderate impingement of the bilateral shoulders with the left more than the right; early degenerative joint disease of the left knee; and degenerative disc disease at L5-S1. Id.

At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff's impairments, whether individually or in combination, do not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 ...


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