United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
(Social Security Case)
For Eric Valentine, Plaintiff: Manuel D Serpa, LEAD ATTORNEY, Binder and Binder, Orange, CA.
For Carolyn W Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant: Assistant U.S. Attorney LA-CV, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of U.S. Attorney, Civil Division, Los Angeles, CA; Assistant U.S. Attorney LA-SSA, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel for Social Security Adm., San Francisco, CA; Francesco P Benavides, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Social Security Administration, San Francisco, CA.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VICTOR B. KENTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation (" JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record (" AR").
Plaintiff raises the following issues:
1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ") committed legal error in rejecting the opinions of treating psychiatrist Zimmerman;
2. Whether the finding that Plaintiff's subjective complaints are not credible is supported by clear and convincing evidence.
(JS at 6.)
This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed.
THE ALJ DID NOT ERR IN REJECTING OR DEPRECIATING THE OPINIONS OF TREATING PSYCHIATRIST DR. ZIMMERMAN
After administrative denials of his applications for Disability insurance Benefits (" DIB") and Supplemental Security Income (" SSI"), Plaintiff requested and received a hearing before an ALJ which occurred on January 31, 2013. At that hearing, he was represented by counsel, and testified, and the ALJ also took testimony from a Vocational Expert (" VE"). (AR 36-74.)
The ALJ issued an unfavorable Decision on February 22, 2013. (AR 22-31.) The Decision followed the well known five step Sequential Evaluation Process as described in 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(a) and 416.920(a). (AR 23-24.) As pertinent to this litigation, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 30, 2009, the alleged onset date. (AR 24.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has a severe impairment of bipolar disorder. (AR 25.) At the next step, he determined that Plaintiff's impairment or combination of impairments did not meet or medically equal any of the Listings. (Id.) After considering the evidence in the record, the ALJ determined Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (" RFC") as enabling him to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations: limitation to work involving simple repetitive tasks; limitation to work involving no more than occasional contact with coworkers; and no work requiring public contact. (AR 216.) Finally, after determining, at Step Four, that ...