United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ROZELLA A. OLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Julie Lynn Lunsford (“Plaintiff”) challenges the
Commissioner'sdenial of her application for supplemental
security income benefits (“SSI”). For the reasons
stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED
and the case is REMANDED to the Social Security
Administration for further proceedings.
16, 2012, Plaintiff applied for supplemental
security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act (the “Act”). (AR 145.) In her
application, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning on
February 8, 2012. (Id. at 10, 170.) Plaintiff's
claims were initially denied on March 28, 2013, and upon
reconsideration on September 10, 2013. (Id. at
65-81, 85.) Plaintiff then filed a written request for a
hearing. The ALJ held a hearing on July 8, 2014, in San
Bernardino, California, at which Plaintiff testified.
(Id. 13, 31-56.) An impartial vocational expert
(“VE”) also testified at the hearing.
(Id. at 53-55.) On October 22, 2014, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not been under a disability, pursuant to
the Social Security Act,  since the date the application was
filed. (Id. at 22.) The ALJ's decision became
the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
(Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff filed this action on March
23, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1.)
followed a five-step sequential evaluation process to assess
whether Plaintiff was disabled under the Social Security Act.
Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir.
1995). At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 30, 2012,
the application date. (AR 12.) At step two, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of degenerative
joint disease of the left knee; bipolar disorder; psychotic
disorder, not otherwise specified; and posttraumatic stress
disorder. (Id.) At step three, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff “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.” (Id. at 13.)
proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except
that she can lift or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently; she can stand and walk for 2 hours in an
8-hour day; she can sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour day; she
cannot push or pull with her left leg, work on unprotected
heights, walk on uneven ground, climb ladders, crawl, or
balance; she can occasionally stoop, bend, and climb stairs
and ramps; she can perform routine, noncomplex tasks in a
nonpublic setting; and she cannot have sustained, intense
interaction with coworkers or supervisors.
(AR at 15.)
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. (AR 20.) At step five, the ALJ found that
there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff can perform. (Id. at
21.) Accordingly, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has not
been under a disability . . . since April 30, 2012, the date
the application was filed.” (Id. at 22.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. A court must
affirm an ALJ's findings of fact if they are supported by
substantial evidence, and if the proper legal standards were
applied. Mayes v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 458-59
(9th Cir. 2001). “‘Substantial evidence'
means more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
person might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d
1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). An ALJ can
satisfy the substantial evidence requirement “by
setting out a detailed and thorough summary of the facts and
conflicting clinical evidence, stating his interpretation
thereof, and making findings.” Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 725 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation
Commissioner's decision cannot be affirmed simply by
isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather,
a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both
evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the
Secretary's conclusion.” Aukland v.
Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001)
(citations and internal quotations omitted).
“‘Where evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, ' the ALJ's decision should
be upheld.” Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
528 F.3d 1194, 1198 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005)); see
also Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882 (“If the evidence
can support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's
conclusion, we may not substitute our judgment for that of
the ALJ.”). The Court may review only “the
reasons provided by the ALJ in the disability determination
and may not affirm the ALJ on a ground upon which he did not
rely.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th
Cir. 2007) (citing Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d
871, 874 (9th Cir. 2003)).
raises four issues in her appeal: (1) whether the ALJ
properly considered the criteria of Listing 12.04; (2)
whether the ALJ properly considered the criteria of Listing
1.02A; (3) whether there is a Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (DOT) inconsistency in the ALJ's holding that the
Plaintiff can perform the jobs such as packer and small
products assembler; and (4) whether the ALJ properly
considered Plaintiff's treating physician's opinion.
(Joint Stip. at 3.) The Court addresses Plaintiff's last
The ALJ Erred in Considering Plaintiff's Treating