United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that Plaintiff's and Defendant's motions for
summary judgment are denied, and this matter is remanded for
further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.
filed this action on August 8, 2016, seeking review of the
Commissioner's denial of benefits. The parties consented
to a Magistrate Judge on September 21, 2016. Plaintiff filed
a motion for summary judgment on December 15, 2016. Defendant
filed a motion for summary judgment on January 17, 2017. The
Court has taken both motions under submission without oral
argument. See L.R. 7-15; “Order, ” filed
August 15, 2016.
AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
a veteran who served as a tank gunner in Iraq, asserts
disability since April 24, 2008 (the date his military
service ended) due to lower back problems and post traumatic
stress disorder (“PTSD”) (Administrative Record
(“A.R.”) 56-57, 156, 179, 203). An Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) examined the medical record and
heard testimony from Plaintiff, Plaintiff's wife, a
medical expert (psychiatrist), and a vocational expert (A.R.
16-32, 37-91, 331-2125).
found that Plaintiff suffers from the following severe
impairments: PTSD, cognitive disorder, polysubstance abuse in
remission, psychosis (not otherwise specified, likely
substance induced), obesity, and a lumbar spine disorder
(A.R. 19). The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity to perform a limited range of medium work
(A.R. 21-30). The ALJ found that a person with this
capacity could work as a hand packager, hospital cleaner, or
industrial cleaner -- jobs existing in significant numbers in
the national economy (A.R. 31-32 (adopting vocational expert
testimony at A.R. 87-89)). The Appeals Council denied review
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 of Social Sec. Admin., 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 Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th
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
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir.
1999) (citations and quotations omitted).
asserts, inter alia, that the ALJ materially erred
in connection with the ALJ's consideration of disability
ratings by the Department of Veterans Affairs
(“VA”). The Court agrees. Remand for further
administrative proceedings is appropriate.
Plaintiff's Post-Military Schooling and Work
has been attending school during most of the time Plaintiff
claims to have been disabled (A.R. 57-58). During 2009-14,
Plaintiff received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from
Chapman University and a master's degree in social work
from the University of Southern California (A.R. 50-51,
57-58). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff
said he had been accepted into chiropractic school for the
fall of 2016 (A.R. 67-68).
appears that Plaintiff's only full-time work attempt
since his military discharge was a five-month trial after he
finished his master's degree. Plaintiff worked for the
Social Security Administration as a claims representative in
training from September 2014 through January 20, 2015 (A.R.
51-52, 203-04). Plaintiff was fired after a hospitalization
earlier that month for psychosis following the use of
methamphetamine (discussed below) (A.R. 52).
Plaintiff's PTSD, Admitted Drug Use and ...