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Yurick v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 20, 2016

THUTHU YURICK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN E. SCOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Thuthu Yurick (“Plaintiff”) appeals the final decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). For the reasons discussed below, the ALJ’s decision is AFFIRMED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on April 17, 2012, alleging the onset of disability on December 31, 2010. Administrative Record (“AR”) 171, 178. On October 8, 2013, an ALJ conducted a hearing, at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified. AR 25-64.

         On December 4, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff’s request for benefits. AR 8-21. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of “chronic pain; diabetes mellitus; hypertension; arthritis; and gastroesophageal reflux disease.” AR 13. The ALJ found Plaintiff’s medically determinable impairment of depression to be non-severe. AR 14.

         Notwithstanding her impairments, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of medium work activities. AR 16. Based on this RFC and the testimony of a vocational expert (“VE”), at step four of the sequential evaluation process the ALJ found that Plaintiff could still perform her past relevant work as a nail shop owner, nail shop helper or assembly supervisor.[1] AR 19-20. Alternatively, at step five, the ALJ found that Plaintiff would be able to perform alternative occupations including office clerk and telephone clerk. AR 20-21. Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled. Id.

         II. ISSUES PRESENTED

         Issue No. 1: Whether the ALJ properly considered the medical evidence in determining Plaintiff’s RFC.

         Issue No. 2: Whether the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff’s credibility in discounting her testimony concerning subjective complaints.

         Issue No. 3: Whether the ALJ properly considered “vocational issues” at both steps four and five. See Dkt. 18, Joint Stipulation (“JS”) at 4.

         III.

         DISCUSSION

         A. The ALJ’s RFC Determination is Supported by Substantial Evidence.

         1. Standard of Review.

         The ALJ is responsible for determining a claimant’s RFC. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1546(c). To do so, the ALJ will consider the medical evidence, resolve conflicts and determine “the most” a claimant can still do despite his/her limitations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a).

         On judicial review, the district court will uphold the Social Security Administration’s RFC determination “unless it contains legal error or is not supported by substantial evidence.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, ” and “must be ‘more than a mere scintilla, ’ but may be less than a preponderance.” Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Valentine v. Comm’r Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 690 (9th Cir.2009)). The reviewing court “must consider the evidence as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner’s conclusion.” Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996). However, if “the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, we must uphold the ALJ’s findings if they are supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the record.” Molina, 674 F.3d at 1111. Overall, the standard of review is “highly deferential.” Valentine, 574 F.3d at 690.

         2. Plaintiff’s Contentions.

         The ALJ’s determination that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform “medium” work equates to a finding that Plaintiff can lift “no more than 50 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds” and that she can walk or stand for approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567 and 416.967; S.S.R. 82-10.

         Plaintiff contends that this determination is “inconsistent with the vast majority of medical evidence in this record.” JS at 5. Plaintiff string cites to her medical records describing complaints of muscle spasms and pain. Id. Plaintiff does not, however, identify any specific ...


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