United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING
ROSENBLUTH U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks review of the Commissioner's final decision denying
his applications for Social Security disability insurance
benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income
benefits ("SSI"). The parties consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge under
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The matter is before the Court on
the parties' Joint Stipulation, filed January 14, 2016,
which the Court has taken under submission without oral
argument. For the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
was born in 1968. (Administrative Record ("AR")
139.) He completed about four years of college and worked as
an automotive oiler and salvage laborer. (AR 36, 64-65,
16, 2011, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging that he
had been unable to work since October 2, 2009, because of a
"[b]ack injury." (AR 139, 146, 164.) After his
applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, he
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. (AR
99.) A hearing was held on September 21, 2012, at which
Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, testified, as did
a vocational expert. (AR 57-77.) In a written decision issued
October 24, 2012, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. (AR
28-36.) On January 7, 2015, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (AR 1.) This action
STANDARD OF REVIEW
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's
findings and decision should be upheld if they are free of
legal error and supported by substantial evidence based on
the record as a whole. See id.; Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Parra v.
Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial
evidence means such evidence as a reasonable person might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; Lingenfelter v.
Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). It is more
than a scintilla but less than a preponderance.
Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035 (citing Robbins
v. Soc. Sec.
466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). To determine whether
substantial evidence supports a finding, the reviewing court
"must review the administrative record as a whole,
weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence
that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion."
Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir.
1996). "If the evidence can reasonably support either
affirming or reversing, " the reviewing court "may
not substitute its judgment" for the Commissioner's.
Id. at 720-21.
THE EVALUATION OF DISABILITY
are "disabled" for purposes of receiving Social
Security benefits if they are unable to engage in any
substantial gainful activity owing to a physical or mental
impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted,
or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least
12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); Drouin v.
Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).
The Five-Step Evaluation Process
follows a five-step sequential evaluation process to assess
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4); Lester v. Chater, 81
F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir. 1995) (as amended Apr. 9, 1996).
In the first step, the Commissioner must determine whether
the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful
activity; if so, the claimant is not disabled and the claim
must be denied. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i),
claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the
second step requires the Commissioner to determine whether
the claimant has a "severe" impairment or
combination of impairments significantly limiting his ability
to do basic work activities; if not, the claimant is not