United States District Court, Central District of California
CHARLES F. EICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff filed a Complaint on May 21, 2014, seeking review of the Commissioner’s denial of benefits. The parties filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on June 14, 2014.
Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on December 1, 2014. Defendant filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on December 31, 2014. The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; “Order, ” filed May 27, 2014.
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
Plaintiff asserts disability since January 26, 2011, based on a combination of alleged exertional and non-exertional impairments (Administrative Record (“A.R.”) 26, 52-65, 155). From 2010 through at least part of 2012, Plaintiff received treatment for her alleged impairments from the Clinica Medica del Sol Group, Inc. (“Clinica Medica”) (A.R. 207, 311-29). On October 5, 2012, Dr. Herman Carillo, one of the physicians at Clinica Medica, signed a “Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire” (“RFC Questionnaire”) (A.R. 373). The RFC Questionnaire opined that Plaintiff’s impairments disable her from all employment (A.R. 370-73).
Dr. Carillo’s precise role in Plaintiff’s treatment at Clinica Medica is uncertain on the present record. The RFC Questionnaire appears to reflect that Dr. Carillo is a “treating source” who has “monthly” contact with Plaintiff (A.R. 370, 373). Similarly, a “Disability Report” from 2012 appears to reflect that Plaintiff saw Dr. Carillo for treatment at Clinica Medica “on a regular basis” (A.R. 207). Yet, Plaintiff appears to have testified that Plaintiff did not see Dr. Carillo (A.R. 65-66). Plaintiff testified she saw another Clinica Medica doctor (Dr. Marvin Urbina) and a physician’s assistant (David Saavedra) who reportedly worked under Dr. Carillo (A.R. 65-66; see A.R. 313).
In finding Plaintiff not disabled despite severe impairments, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) relied on the opinions of non-treating, non-examining physicians who had reviewed some but not all of Plaintiff’s medical records (A.R. 31-34, 111, 119, 251-54). The ALJ did not order that Plaintiff be examined by any consultative physician. The ALJ rejected the opinions expressed in the RFC Questionnaire by stating:
I do not give significant weight to Dr. Carillo’s opinion that the claimant can perform significantly less than even sedentary work. Dr. Carillo’s assessment is inconsistent with the objective medical evidence and the longitudinal treatment record as a whole. I also note that the claimant testified that she is not seen or treated by Dr. Carillo. Accordingly, his opinion is not entitled to greater weight than I afford to the opinion of the [non-treating, non-examining physicians].
(A.R. 33). The Appeals Council received and considered additional medical records, but denied review (A.R. 1-6, 249-54).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration’s decision to determine if: (1) the Administration’s findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation and quotations omitted); see also Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2006).
If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the Commissioner’s decision cannot be affirmed simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather, a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both evidence ...