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Renteria v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 22, 2016

ROSARIO RENTERIA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff filed a complaint on January 7, 2016, seeking review of the Commissioner’s denial of benefits. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on February 24, 2016. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on June 14, 2016. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on July 11, 2016. The Court has taken the motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; “, ” filed January 11, 2016.

         BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         Plaintiff sought disability insurance benefits, asserting she has been disabled ever since she fell at work in July of 2005

         (Administrative Record (“A.R.”) 39-47, 195). Plaintiff’s last insured date was September 30, 2009 (A.R. 23, 199). The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) examined the documents in the record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert (A.R. 21-465). The ALJ found certain severe impairments, including “degenerative disc disease of the right knee” and “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine” (A.R. 23). The ALJ also found, however, that through at least September 30, 2009, Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of light work (A.R. 23-24). The ALJ determined that this functional capacity would have permitted the performance of Plaintiff’s past relevant work (A.R. 25). The Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 7-9).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration’s decision to determine if: (1) the Administration’s findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation and quotations omitted); see also Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2006).

If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the Commissioner’s decision cannot be affirmed simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather, a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the [administrative] conclusion.

Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citations and quotations omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         After consideration of the record as a whole, Defendant’s motion is granted and Plaintiff’s motion is denied. The Administration’s findings are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material[1] legal error. Plaintiff’s contrary arguments are unavailing.

         A social security claimant bears the burden of “showing that a physical or mental impairment prevents [her] from engaging in any of [her] previous occupations.” Sanchez v. Secretary, 812 F.2d 509, 511 (9th Cir. 1987); accord Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987). Plaintiff must prove her impairments prevented her from working for twelve continuous months. See Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 218-25 (2002); Krumpelman v. Heckler, 767 F.2d 586, 589 (9th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1025 (1986). Plaintiff “must demonstrate [she] was disabled prior to [her] last insured date.” Morgan v. Sullivan, 945 F.2d 1079, 1080 (9th Cir. 1991); see 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(2)(C), 416(i)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. 404.131; see also Vertigan v. Halter, 260 F.3d 1044, 1047 (9th Cir. 2001); Flaten v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 44 F.3d 1453, 1458 (9th Cir. 1995) (where claimants apply for benefits after the expiration of their insured status based on a current disability, the claimants “must show that the current disability has existed continuously since some time on or before the date their insured status lapsed”). Substantial evidence supports the conclusion Plaintiff failed to carry her burden in this case.

         Significantly, no physician opined Plaintiff was totally disabled prior to her last insured date. See Matthews v. Shalala, 10 F.3d 678, 680 (9th Cir. 1993) (in upholding the Administration’s decision, the Court emphasized: “None of the doctors who examined [claimant] expressed the opinion that he was ...


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