United States District Court, C.D. California
JOSE A. ANGUIANO-VASQUEZ, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SHERI PYM, Magistrate Judge.
On January 29, 2014, plaintiff Jose A. Anguiano-Vasquez filed a complaint against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner"), seeking a review of a denial of a period of disability and disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), and supplemental security income ("SSI"). Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes before the assigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.
Plaintiff presents two issues for decision: (1) whether substantial evidence supports the residual functional capacity ("RFC") assessment by the administrative law judge ("ALJ"); and (2) whether the ALJ properly determined plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("P. Mem.") at 2-10; Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Answer ("D. Mem.") at 2-11.
Having carefully studied the parties' papers, the Administrative Record ("AR"), and the decision of the ALJ, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, the ALJ's RFC determination is supported by substantial evidence, and the ALJ provided clear and convincing reasons for discounting plaintiff's credibility prior to determining plaintiff's RFC. In addition, because the ALJ properly determined plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ did not err at step five in posing hypotheticals consistent with that RFC to the vocational expert. Consequently, this court affirms the decision of the Commissioner denying benefits.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff, who was fifty-four years old on his alleged onset of disability date, had a fifth or sixth grade education in Mexico and communicates only in Spanish. AR at 24, 56, 223, 228, 260-61. His past relevant work includes employment as a construction worker and landscape laborer. Id. at 24, 66-67, 262.
On June 6, 2011, plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging that he has been disabled since May 7, 2008 due to damaged discs of the back. See AR at 48, 261. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which he filed a request for a hearing. Id. at 115-18, 124, 126-30, 133.
On October 30, 2012, plaintiff, represented by counsel and assisted by a Spanish interpreter, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. Id. at 42-76. The ALJ also heard testimony from a vocational expert. Id. at 63-75.
On November 9, 2012, the ALJ denied plaintiff's claim for benefits. Id. at 10-26. Plaintiff filed a timely request for review of the decision, which the Appeals Council denied. Id. at 1-9.
Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 7, 2008, the alleged onset of disability date. Id. at 18.
At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of obesity and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. Id.
At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff's impairments, whether individually or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the "Listings"). Id. at 19.
The ALJ then assessed plaintiff's RFC,  and determined that he had the RFC to perform medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.1567(c) and 416.967(c), except that plaintiff could lift and/or carry forty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds frequently. Id. The ALJ ...