United States District Court, E.D. California
CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”) finding
plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of receiving
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act (“Act”). For the
reasons discussed below, the court will deny
plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and grant the
Commissioner’s cross-motion for summary judgment.
born May 7, 1967, applied on March 16, 2012 for DIB, alleging
disability beginning May 18, 2008. Administrative Transcript
(“AT”) 83, 149-52. Plaintiff alleged she was
unable to work due to kidney disease, type II diabetes,
numbness in both legs, anxiety, and panic attacks. AT 165. In
a decision dated June 10, 2014, the ALJ determined that
plaintiff was not disabled. AT 13-23. The ALJ made the
following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from her alleged onset date of May
18, 2008 though her date last insured of December 31, 2013.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following severe impairments: diabetes with peripheral
neuropathy, coronary artery disease on anti-coagulant
therapy, spine degenerative disc disease, obesity, and
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except she
requires the option to stand up every 30 minutes for 1 to 2
minutes at the workstation to stretch. She can occasionally
climb ramps and stairs, stoop, balance, crouch, crawl and
kneel. She cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She must
avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat, cold, humidity,
and avoid all exposure to hazards in the workplace such as
moving machinery or unprotected heights. She can perform
simple, repetitive tasks with occasional interaction with the
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to
perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on May 7, 1967 and was 46 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the
date last insured. The claimant subsequently changed age
category to a younger individual age 45-49.
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferrable job skills.
10. Through the date last insured, considering the
claimant’s age, education, work experience, and
residual functional capacity, there were jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant
could have performed.
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, at any time from May 18, 2008, the
alleged onset date, through December 31, 2013, the date last
argues that the ALJ committed the following errors in finding
plaintiff not disabled: (1) failed to fully and fairly
develop the record with regard to plaintiff’s cardiac
impairments; (2) improperly found plaintiff’s testimony
regarding the extent of her pain and symptoms to be less than
fully credible; (3) improperly discounted the lay witness
testimony of plaintiff’s husband; (4) made a residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) determination that
was not based on substantial evidence; and (5) improperly
relied on the vocational expert’s (“VE”)
testimony to find plaintiff not disabled at step five of the
court reviews the Commissioner’s decision to determine
whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the
record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance.
Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir.
2003) (citation omitted). It means “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d
625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Burch v. Barnhart,
400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005)). “The ALJ is
responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts
in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.”
Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir.
2001) (citations omitted). “The court will uphold the
ALJ’s conclusion when the evidence is susceptible to
more than one rational interpretation.” Tommasetti
v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008).
record as a whole must be considered, Howard v.
Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986), and both
the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts
from the ALJ’s conclusion weighed. See Jones v.
Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court
may not affirm the ALJ’s decision simply by isolating a
specific quantum of supporting evidence. Id.;
see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th
Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the
administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence
supporting a finding of either disability or nondisability,
the finding of the ALJ is conclusive, see Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987), and may
be set aside only if an improper legal standard was applied
in weighing the evidence. See Burkhart v. Bowen, 856
F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988).
The ALJ Fully and Fairly Developed the Record with Regard