United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON PLAINTIFF'S
SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT
BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Richard Flores (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial
review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under
Title II of the Social Security Act. The matter is currently
before the Court on the parties’ briefs,  which were
submitted, without oral argument, to Magistrate Judge Barbara
A. McAuliffe, for findings and recommendations. Having
considered the moving papers and the Court’s file, the
Court finds the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) to be supported by substantial evidence
in the record as a whole and based upon proper legal
standards, and recommends that the Court affirm the
Commissioner’s denial of benefits.
24, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits, alleging disability beginning on October
30, 2009. AR 182- 89, 251. Plaintiff asserted that he became
disabled on October 30, 2009, due to a lacroscopic bilateral
inguinal hernia. AR 65. Plaintiff’s claims were denied
initially on July 28, 2011 and upon reconsideration on
November 4, 2011. AR 112-16, 118-22. Plaintiff subsequently
filed a written request for a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”). AR 123-24. On
December 18, 2012, the ALJ held a hearing; Plaintiff, who was
represented by an attorney, and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. AR 30-58. In a decision dated
January 14, 2013, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not
disabled from October 30, 2009, his alleged onset of
disability date, through the date of the decision. AR 15-24.
Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ’s decision, and
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request. AR 1-5.
This appeal followed.
the Social Security Administration’s five-step
sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October
30, 2009, his alleged onset date. AR 17. Second, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: lumbar degenerative disc disease; bilateral
inguinal hernias, status post repair; history of hydrocele,
status post hydrocelectomy; ilioinguinal nerve pain; and
atrial fibrillation, status post ablation. AR 17. Third, the
ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have a listed impairment
or combination of impairments. AR 19.
carefully reviewing the entire record, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(b), lifting and carrying 20 pounds occasionally and
10 pounds frequently; and siting, standing, and walking 6
hours in an 8-hour day with an option to sit/stand at will.
AR 19. The ALJ also found Plaintiff could occasionally stoop,
crouch, crawl, climb, and kneel, but never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds. AR 19. At the fourth step, the ALJ found
Plaintiff could not perform any of his past relevant work. AR
22. However, at the fifth step, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs in the
national economy. AR 23. Therefore, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 24.
order to qualify for benefits, a claimant must establish that
he or she is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity
due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c
(a)(3)(A). A claimant must show that he or she has a physical
or mental impairment of such severity that he or she is not
only unable to do his or her previous work, but cannot,
considering his or her age, education, and work experience,
engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which
exists in the national economy. Quang Van Han v.
Bowen, 882 F.2d 1453, 1456 (9th Cir. 1989). The burden
is on the claimant to establish disability. Terry v.
Sullivan, 903 F.2d 1273, 1275 (9th Cir. 1990).
to 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), a Court may set aside a denial
of benefits only if it is not supported by substantial
evidence or if it is based on legal error. Robbins v.
Social Security Administration, 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th
Cir. 2006) (citing Flaten v. Secretary of Health &
Human Services, 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995)).
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 (1971) (citations and quotations omitted). It is more
than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance.
Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882 (citing Young v.
Sullivan, 911 F.2d 180, 183 (9th Cir. 1990)).
determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, a
court must “consider the record as a whole, weighing
both evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from
the [Commissioner’s] conclusion.’”
Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir.
2001) (quoting Penny v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 953, 956
(9th Cir. 1993)). If the evidence can reasonably support
either affirming or reversing the ALJ’s conclusion, a
court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882 (citing Flaten, 44
F.3d at 1457).