United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF
THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
E. MCDERMOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
November 5, 2015, James Joseph Ganahl ("Plaintiff"
or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of
the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's
applications for Social Security Disability Insurance
benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI")
benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on February 9,
2016. On May 17, 2016, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation
("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed
before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings,
transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the
Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be
affirmed and this case dismissed with prejudice.
is a 49-year-old male who applied for Social Security
Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security
Income benefits on December 23, 2010, alleging disability
beginning April 13, 2010. (AR 19.) Plaintiff's claims
were denied initially on March 8, 2011, and on
reconsideration on August 31, 2011. (AR 19.) Plaintiff filed
a timely request for hearing, which was held before
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") John Kays on April
3, 2012, in Orange, California. (AR 19.) The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on July 19, 2012. (AR 19-28.) The
Appeals Council denied review on August 30, 2013. (AR 1-3.)
commenced an action in the United States District Court
Central District of California on October 21, 2013 (SACV
13-1613 PJW). The Court remanded the case for further
proceedings on July 30, 3014. (AR 576-691.) Pursuant to the
Court's remand order, the Appeals Council directed the
ALJ to offer Plaintiff the opportunity for a hearing, take
any further action needed to complete the administrative
record, and issue a new decision. (AR 500, 597-600.) Thus,
the Plaintiff appeared and testified at a
hearing held before ALJ Kays on June 17, 2015, in
Orange, California. (AR 500.) Claimant was represented by
counsel. (AR 500.) Medical expert ("ME") Robert
Campbell Thompson, M.D., appeared and testified via
telephone. (AR 500.) Vocational expert ("VE")
Timothy J. Farrell also appeared and testified at the
hearing. (AR 500.)
issued another unfavorable decision on July 30, 2015. (AR
reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the
following disputed issues as grounds for reversal and remand:
1. Whether the ALJ properly determined that Plaintiff has a
non-severe mental impairment.
2. Whether the ALJ fully and fairly developed the record.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's
decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are
supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error.
Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir.
1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841,
846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must
be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper
evidence means "‘more than a mere scintilla, '
but less than a preponderance." Saelee v.
Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse
as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where
evidence is susceptible to more than one rational
interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld.
Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169
F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). "However, 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, 466 F.3d at
882 (quoting Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501
(9th Cir. 1989)); see also Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d
625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007).