United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
J. WISTRICH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
filed this action seeking reversal of the decision of the
defendant, the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the “Commissioner”), denying
plaintiff's application for social security disability
insurance and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits. The parties have filed a Joint
Stipulation (“JS”) setting forth their
contentions with respect to each disputed issue.
procedural facts are summarized in the Joint Stipulation.
[See JS 2-4]. In a January 23, 2014 written hearing
decision that constitutes the Commissioner's final
decision, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
found that plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a restricted range of
light work. The ALJ determined that plaintiff could not
perform her past relevant work, but that she could perform
alternative jobs available in significant numbers in the
national economy. [JS 4; Administrative Record
(“AR”) 43]. Accordingly, the ALJ found plaintiff
not disabled at any time from August 1, 2010, her alleged
onset date, through the date of the ALJ's decision. [AR
Commissioner's denial of benefits should be disturbed
only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or is
based on legal error. Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806
F.3d 487, 492 (9th Cir. 2015); Thomas v. Barnhart,
278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002). “Substantial
evidence” means “more than a mere scintilla, but
less than a preponderance.” Bayliss v.
Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Cir. 1999)). “It is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676,
679 (9th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted). The
court is required to review the record as a whole and to
consider evidence detracting from the decision as well as
evidence supporting the decision. Robbins v. Social Sec.
Admin, 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006); Verduzco
v. Apfel, 188 F.3d 1087, 1089 (9th Cir. 1999).
“Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ's
decision, the ALJ's conclusion must be upheld.”
Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
2002) (citing Morgan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999)).
contends that the ALJ erred in evaluating the opinion of
Robert Campbell Thompson, M.D., who testified as a medical
expert during the November 6, 2013 hearing.
Thompson testified that he had reviewed the medical records
submitted by the parties but had not examined or treated
plaintiff. [AR 60]. Based on his evaluation of
plaintiff's medical records, he described plaintiff's
functional limitations as follows:
Section 1 is lifting and carrying, I would say, frequently up
to 10 pounds, occasionally 11 to 20 and not over 20 for both
lifting and carrying. Section 2, sitting, standing and
walking at one time, one hour each in an eight-hour workday,
six hours total mixed between them. In other words, six
altogether. There is no evidence that a cane is required for
parties disagree about how Dr. Thompson's testimony
should be interpreted. Plaintiff interprets Dr.
Thompson's testimony to mean that plaintiff can work six
hours in a workday at a maximum, alternating between sitting,
standing and walking. The Commissioner contends that the ALJ
permissibly interpreted Dr. Thompson's testimony to mean
that plaintiff was capable of performing “light work .
. . sitting, standing and/or walking six hours out of an
eight hour workday with the ability to stand and stretch or
sit and stretch every hour estimated to take one to three
minutes per hour.” [AR 36].
ALJ's interpretation is supported by the record. During
the hearing, plaintiff's ...