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Bouldin v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 4, 2014

STACY BOULDIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

FREDERICK F. MUMM, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action seeking to overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration[1] denying her application for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income benefits. The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. Pursuant to the December 13, 2012, Case Management Order, on September 6, 2013, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") detailing each party's arguments and authorities. The Court has reviewed the JS and the administrative record ("AR"), filed by defendant on July 3, 2013. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

ISSUE

Plaintiff raises a single issue:

1. Whether the ALJ's credibility determination is supported by substantial evidence. (JS 5.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla" but less than a preponderance. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971); Desrosiers v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 575-76 (9th Cir. 1988). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401. This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 929-30 (9th Cir. 1986). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld. Gallant v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1984).

DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's contention regarding the credibility determination.

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ did not properly consider plaintiff's subjective complaints. Plaintiff points out that this Court reversed the prior decision of the Commissioner in this case because the ALJ had not provided a legally sufficient reason for discounting plaintiff's credibility.

B. The ALJ's decision.

After remand, the ALJ again found that plaintiff was less than credible in her descriptions of her subjective symptoms. (AR 392.) The ALJ based his conclusion on the medical evidence, which contains mild objective findings and demonstrates conservative treatment. ( Id. ) The ALJ also found that plaintiff's pain testimony was exaggerated and embellished based on the little evidence in the record of plaintiff complaining about and receiving treatment for her allegedly debilitating headaches and nausea. This embellishment of her testimony negatively reflected on her credibility. Plaintiff contends that once again the ALJ failed to provide legally-sufficient reasons for finding plaintiff incredible. The Court finds that remand is not warranted on this issue.

C. Analysis.

Once a claimant produces medical evidence of an underlying impairment that is reasonably likely to cause the alleged symptoms, medical findings are not required to support their alleged severity. Bunnell v. Sullivan, 947 F.2d 341, 345 (9th Cir. 1991). However, an ALJ may reject a claimant's allegations upon: (1) finding evidence of malingering; or (2) providing clear ...


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