United States District Court, C.D. California
DONNA F. SILVERMAN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
HONORABLE JACQUELINE CHOOLJIAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
August 19, 2016, Donna F. Silverman (“plaintiff”)
filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of
Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application
for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions
for summary judgment, respectively (“Plaintiff's
Motion”) and (“Defendant's Motion”).
The Court has taken both motions under submission without
oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15;
August 25, 2016 Case Management Order ¶ 5.
on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision
of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) are supported by
substantial evidence and are free from material error.
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
August 3, 2012, plaintiff filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits alleging disability beginning on June 1,
2009, due to reflex sympathetic dystrophy, lumbar spine
problems, back pain, depression caused by constant pain,
limits on concentration, and right foot pain/weak leg.
(Administrative Record (“AR”) 15, 169, 184). The
ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from
plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational
expert on February 12, 2015. (AR 31-69).
February 27, 2015, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not
disabled through December 31, 2014 (i.e., the
“date last insured”). (AR 15-24). Specifically,
the ALJ found that through the date last insured: (1)
plaintiff suffered from the following severe combination of
impairments: a history of left humerus fracture, lumbar
radiculopathy, a history of right ankle fracture (status post
surgery), and reflex sympathetic dystrophy
(“RSD”) of the right foot (AR 18); (2) plaintiff
did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
met or medically equaled a listed impairment (AR 19-20); (3)
plaintiff essentially retained the residual functional
capacity to perform a range of sedentary work (20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567(a)) with additional limitations (AR 20); (4)
plaintiff was capable of performing past relevant work as a
Chief Computer Programmer (AR 23-24); and (5) plaintiff's
statements regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of subjective symptoms were not entirely credible (AR
23, 2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
application for review. (AR 1).
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS
Sequential Evaluation Process
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that
the claimant is unable “to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result
in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir.
2012) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The impairment must render the
claimant incapable of performing the work the claimant
previously performed and incapable of performing any other
substantial gainful employment that exists in the national
economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th
Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)).
assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is required
to use the following five-step sequential evaluation process:
(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful
activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not,
proceed to step two.
(2) Is the claimant's alleged impairment sufficiently
severe to limit the claimant's ability to work? If not,
the claimant is not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.
(3) Does the claimant's impairment, or combination of
impairments, meet or equal an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is
disabled. If not, proceed to step four.
(4) Does the claimant possess the residual functional
capacity to perform claimant's past relevant work? If so,
the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step five.
(5) Does the claimant's residual functional capacity,
when considered with the claimant's age, education, and
work experience, allow the claimant to adjust to other work
that exists in significant numbers in the national economy?
If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, the claimant is
Stout v. Commissioner, Social Security
Administration, 454 F.3d 1050, 1052 (9th Cir. 2006)
(citations omitted); see also 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4) (explaining five-step ...