United States District Court, C.D. California
DORIS J. NASH, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER AFFIRMING
ROSENBLUTH U.S. Magistrate Judge.
seeks review of the Commissioner’s final decision
denying her 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 May 9, 2016, which the Court has taken under submission
without oral argument. For the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner’s decision is affirmed and this action is
was born in 1961. (Administrative Record (“AR”)
36.) She completed 11th grade and worked as a hairdresser,
security guard, and caregiver. (AR 128, 134.)
September 10, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB,
alleging that she had been unable to work since October 11,
2008, because of heart failure, diabetes, high blood
pressure, and thyroid problems. (AR 54.) That application was
denied on February 22, 2013 (AR 57), and on March 28, she
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (AR
66). On April 26, 2013,  she filed an application for
(AR 108.) The hearing was held on September 24, 2013, and
Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, testified, as did
medical, psychological, and vocational experts. (AR 33.) In a
written decision issued November 6, 2013, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not disabled. (AR 27.) On January 30, 2015, the
Appeals Council denied review. (AR 1.) This action followed.
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. Admin., 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 her ability
to do basic work activities; if not, the claimant is not
disabled and her claim must be denied. §§
claimant has a “severe” impairment or combination
of impairments, the third step requires the Commissioner to
determine whether the impairment or combination of
impairments meets or equals an impairment in the Listing of
Impairments (“Listing”) set forth at 20 C.F.R.
part 404, subpart P, appendix 1; if ...