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Camarena v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 27, 2017

MARIA NILA CAMARENA, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          JOHN E. MCDERMOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         PROCEEDINGS

         On August 15, 2016, Maria Nila Camarena (“Plaintiff” or “Claimant”) filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on December 1, 2016. On February 24, 2017, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation (“JS”). The matter is now ready for decision.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed bef ore this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record (“AR”), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this case dismissed with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a 59-year-old female who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits on August 29, 2012, alleging disability beginning April 29, 2010. (AR 33.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 29, 2010, the alleged onset date. (AR 35.)

         Plaintiff's claims were denied initially on April 18, 2013 and on reconsideration on October 17, 2013. (AR 33.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Mark B. Greenberg on January 6, 2015, in Moreno Valley, California. (AR 33.) Plaintiff appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel with a Spanish interpreter appearing as well. (AR 33.) Vocational expert (“VE”) Mary E. Jesko also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 33.)

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on January 21, 2015. (AR 33-43.) The Appeals Council denied review on June 13, 2016. (AR 1-4.)

         DISPUTED ISSUES

         As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the following disputed issues as grounds for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ properly determined that Maria Camarena could perform her past relevant work.
2. Whether the ALJ propounded a complete hypothetical to the vocational expert.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

         Substantial evidence means “‘more than a mere scintilla, ' but less than a preponderance.” Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). “However, a reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a ‘specific quantum of supporting evidence.'” Robbin ...


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