United States District Court, E.D. California
CARI A. DALSIS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DALE A. DROZD, Magistrate Judge.
This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion is granted, defendant's cross-motion is denied, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.
On October 15, 2010, plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act") and for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Act alleging disability beginning on January 15, 2010. (Transcript ("Tr.") at 16, 155-67.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially, (id. at 88-97), and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 100-05.)
Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing which was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on January 31, 2012. (Id. at 32-58.) Plaintiff was represented by a non-attorney representative and testified at that administrative hearing. (Id. at 32-33.) In a decision issued on February 9, 2012, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 27.) The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2011.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 15, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: asthma; obesity; bipolar disorder; and bulimia (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except she can frequently climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She must avoid concentrate (sic) exposure to irritants such as fumes odors dusts gases poorly ventilated areas. She is limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks and low stress work, defined as requiring only occasional decision-making and only occasional changes in work setting. She is limited to jobs requiring only occasional interaction with the public and coworkers.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on December 14, 1987 and was 22 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled, " whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 15, 2010, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
(Id. at 18-26.)
On May 30, 2013, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's February 9, 2012. (Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on July 30, 2013.
"The district court reviews the Commissioner's final decision for substantial evidence, and the Commissioner's decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error." Hill v. Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1158-59 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Osenbrock v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2001); Sandgathe v. Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997).
"[A] reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence.'" Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989)). If, however, "the record considered as a whole can reasonably support either affirming or reversing the ...