United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DIRECTING ENTRY OF JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF
DEFENDANT, NANCY BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
SECURITY, AND AGAINST PLAINTIFF EDWARD GARCIA
JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Garcia asserts he is entitled to a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security
income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
Plaintiff argues the administrative law judge erred in
evaluating the record and seeks judicial review of the
decision to deny his applications for benefits. For the
reasons set forth below, the decision is AFFIRMED.
filed his applications for benefits on September 26, 2012,
alleging disability beginning on October 5, 2011. (Doc. 10-3
at 15) The Social Security Administration denied
Plaintiff's applications at both the initial level and
upon reconsideration. (See generally Doc. 10-4)
After requesting a hearing, Plaintiff testified before an ALJ
on January 21, 2014. (Doc. 10-3 at 15, 30) The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not disabled and issued an order denying
benefits on August 7, 2014. (Id. at 15-22) When the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of
the decision on October 27, 2015 (id. at 2-4), the
ALJ's findings became the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”).
courts have a limited scope of judicial review for disability
claims after a decision by the Commissioner to deny benefits
under the Social Security Act. When reviewing findings of
fact, such as whether a claimant was disabled, the Court must
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The ALJ's determination that the
claimant is not disabled must be upheld by the Court if the
proper legal standards were applied and the findings are
supported by substantial evidence. See Sanchez v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Serv., 812 F.2d 509, 510
(9th Cir. 1987).
evidence is “more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol.
Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197 (1938)). The record as
a whole must be considered, because “[t]he court must
consider both evidence that supports and evidence that
detracts from the ALJ's conclusion.” Jones v.
Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985).
qualify for benefits under the Social Security Act, Plaintiff
must establish he is unable to engage in substantial gainful
activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental
impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than 12 months. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382c(a)(3)(A). An individual shall be considered to
have a disability only if:
his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work,
but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy, regardless of
whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B). The burden of proof is on a
claimant to establish disability. Terry v. Sullivan,
903 F.2d 1273, 1275 (9th Cir. 1990). If a claimant
establishes a prima facie case of disability, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner to prove the claimant is able to
engage in other substantial gainful employment. Maounois
v. Heckler, 738 F.2d 1032, 1034 (9th Cir. 1984).
achieve uniform decisions, the Commissioner established a
sequential five-step process for evaluating a claimant's
alleged disability. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
416.920(a)-(f). The process requires the ALJ to determine
whether Plaintiff (1) engaged in substantial gainful activity
during the period of alleged disability, (2) had medically
determinable severe impairments (3) that met or equaled one
of the listed impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; and whether Plaintiff (4) had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
to past relevant work or (5) the ability to perform other
work existing in significant numbers at the state and
national level. Id. The ALJ must consider
testimonial and objective medical evidence. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1527, 416.927.
to the five-step process, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did
not engage in substantial gainful activity after the alleged
onset date of October 5, 2011. (Doc. 10-3 at 17) At step two,
the ALJ found Plaintiff's “left lower extremity
fracture of the tibia and fibula” was a severe
impairment. (Id.) At step three, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff did not have an impairment, or combination of