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Rehana v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 28, 2017

ANITA M. REHANA, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          ORDER

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her applications for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied and the Commissioner's motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI, alleging that she had been disabled since February 1, 2011.[1] Administrative Record (“AR”) 183-198. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 125-129, 134-139. On March 4, 2014, a hearing was held before administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Daniel G. Heely. Id. at 40-62. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, at which she and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. Id.

         On May 21, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act.[2] Id. at 21-35. The ALJ made the following specific findings

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 28, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia syndrome; asthma; joint pain secondary to osteoarthritis; a depressive disorder; a seizure disorder; and post traumatic stress disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; she is limited to occasional public contact; she can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; she can occasionally climb ramps or stairs; she can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; she can never work around hazards like moving dangerous machinery or walking around unprotected heights; she cannot operate motor vehicles or work around any other types of activities in a work setting that may be considered prohibited by someone with seizures; and she would have to avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases and other environmental irritants.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born [in] 1966 and was 46 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 28, 2012, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

Id. at 23-35.

         Plaintiff's request for Appeals Council review was denied on October 30, 2015, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner. Id. at 2-6.

          II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999); Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999).

         The findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. See Miller v. Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521 (9th Cir. 1996). “‘It means such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” R ...


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