United States District Court, C.D. California
TAMI A. ROMERSHEUSER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. STEVENSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
filed a Complaint on July 9, 2016, seeking review of the
denial of her applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and an order reversing the
Commissioner's decision and either ordering the payment
of benefits or remanding the matter for further
administrative proceedings. (Dkt. No. 1.) On August 26, 2016,
the parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge. (Dkt. Nos. 14-16.) On January 9, 2017, the Court
ordered the parties to each file motions for summary judgment
setting forth, inter alia, a statement of the issues
presented and the evidence and legal authorities regarding
each claim. (Dkt. No. 24.) On February 8, 2017, Plaintiff
filed her motion for summary judgment (“Plaintiff's
Motion”) (Dkt. No. 26), and on March 10, 2017,
Defendant filed her motion for summary judgment
(“Defendant's Motion”) (Dkt. No. 27).
Plaintiff filed additional medical information on March 28,
2017 (“Plaintiff's Supplement”). (Dkt. No.
28.) Plaintiff requests the immediate award of benefits or,
in the alternative, a remand to the Commissioner for
reconsideration of the evidence. (Complaint at 3.) The
Commissioner requests that the ALJ's decision be affirmed
or, in the alternative, remanded for further consideration.
(See Defendant's Motion at 9.) The Court has
taken the matter under submission without oral argument.
OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
November 8, 2011, Plaintiff, who was born on February 10,
1968,  filed an application for DIB.
(See Administrative Record (“AR”) 181.)
Plaintiff alleged disability commencing January 1, 2010, due
to “fibromyalgia/myalgia/pre-cancer of cervix, GERD,
hypothyroidism/chronic fatigue syndrome, breast cancer (DX
10/2006), lumbar issues, eye sensitivity to light, asthma,
vertigo/arthritis, major depression, anxiety/bipolar
disorder/PTSD.” (AR 225.) Plaintiff previously worked
as a home attendant (DOT 354.377-014), survey worker (DOT
205.367-054), and a receptionist (DOT 237-367-038). (See
id. 21, 57, 227.) The Commissioner denied
Plaintiff's application initially. (Id. 75). On
May 21, 2012, Plaintiff requested a hearing. (Id.
85.) On April 22, 2014 and September 25, 2014, Administrative
Law Judge John Tobin (“ALJ”) held a hearing.
(Id. 27, 36.) Plaintiff, who was represented by
counsel, and Gregory Jones, the vocational expert
(“VE”), testified at the hearing. (Id.
29-64.) On February 25, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision, denying Plaintiff's application for DIB.
(Id. 13-22.) On May 10, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Id.
OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013 and had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity from the alleged
onset date of January 1, 2010 through her date last insured.
(AR 15.) The ALJ further found that, through the date last
insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
“fibromyalgia, mild degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar spine, benign positional vertigo, obesity, major
depressive disorder in remission, and pre-diabetes.”
(Id.) The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of any impairments listed in
20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1 (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526). (Id.
at 17.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform “a
wide range of light work . . . and could occasionally stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl.” (Id.) The ALJ found
that Plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as
a survey worker (DOT 205.367-054) and a receptionist (DOT
237-367-038). (AR 21.) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, at any time from the alleged onset
through the date last insured. (Id. 21.)
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine whether it is free
from legal error and supported by substantial evidence in the
record as a whole. Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630
(9th Cir. 2007). “Substantial evidence is ‘more
than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.'” Gutierrez
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 740 F.3d 519,
522-23 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted).
“Even when the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, we must uphold the ALJ's
findings if they are supported by inferences reasonably drawn
from the record.” Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d
1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012).
this Court cannot substitute its discretion for the
Commissioner's, the Court nonetheless must review the
record as a whole, “weighing both the evidence that
supports and the evidence that detracts from the
[Commissioner's] conclusion.” Lingenfelter v.
Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted); Desrosiers v.
Sec'y of Health and Hum. Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 576
(9th Cir. 1988). “The ALJ is responsible for
determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical
testimony, and for resolving ambiguities.” Andrews
v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995).
Court will uphold the Commissioner's decision when the
evidence is susceptible to more than one rational
interpretation. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679
(9th Cir. 2005). However, the Court may review only the
reasons stated by the ALJ in his decision “and may not
affirm the ALJ on a ground upon which he did not rely.”
Orn, 495 F.3d at 630; see also Connett v.
Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 874 (9th Cir. 2003). The Court
will not reverse the Commissioner's decision if it is
based on harmless error, which exists if the error is
“‘inconsequential to the ultimate nondisability
determination, ' or if despite the legal error,
‘the agency's path may reasonably be
discerned.'” Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806
F.3d 487, 492 (9th Cir. 2015) (internal citations omitted).
Issues In Dispute.
does not identify any errors with the ALJ's decision.
(See generally Plaintiff's Motion.) Instead, she
states that “all of [her] health problems were not
mentioned” at the hearing before the ALJ
(Plaintiff's Motion at 1),  and she submits eight
“new” medical records for the Court's
consideration (see Plaintiff's Motion at 4-13;
Plaintiff's Supplement at 4). Accordingly, very liberally
construed, the Court understands Plaintiff's Motion as
presenting two arguments for an order reversing and remanding
the ALJ's decision: (1) she was denied a meaningful
opportunity be heard in connection with her claim, cf.
Dexter v. Colvin, 731 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2013); and
(2) she is entitled to a sentence six remand based on new
evidence, cf. Mayes v. ...