United States District Court, C.D. California
LUZ I. RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that Plaintiff's and Defendant's motions for
summary judgment are denied, and this matter is remanded for
further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.
filed a complaint on August 5, 2016, seeking review of the
Commissioner's denial of benefits. The parties consented
to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on January
21, 2017. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on
January 27, 2017. Defendant filed a motion for summary
judgment on March 27, 2017. The Court has taken the motions
under submission without oral argument. See L.R.
7-15; “Order, ” filed August 9, 2016.
AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
asserts disability since early April of 2010, based on
alleged physical and mental impairments (Administrative
Record (“A.R.”) 179-82, 195-96). An
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) reviewed the
record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (A.R. 28-38, 42-66). The ALJ found that Plaintiff has
severe physical impairments which limit her to the following
residual functional capacity:
[Plaintiff can] perform sedentary work as defined in 20
C.F.R. 404.1567(a) except that [Plaintiff] can occasionally
climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; never
[climb] ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; frequently perform
reaching, fingering, and handling including overhead
reaching; and avoid concentrated exposure to cold and
vibration; and avoid moderate exposure to industrial hazards.
32). In finding Plaintiff retains this capacity, the ALJ gave
little or no weight to the contrary opinions of the treating
and examining physicians of record (A.R. 33-35). The ALJ did
not mention the opinions of the non-examining state agency
physicians (A.R. 33-35).
vocational expert testified that a person with the residual
functional capacity defined by the ALJ could perform
Plaintiff's past relevant work (A.R. 53-54). The ALJ
relied on this testimony in finding Plaintiff not disabled
(A.R. 36). The Appeals Council considered additional evidence
but denied review (A.R. 1-5; see also A.R. 1830-34
(new opinion evidence post-dating the ALJ's adverse
42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the
Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the
Administration's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d
1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499
F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Brewes v.
Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012).
Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (citation and quotations omitted); see
also Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir.
If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the
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
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir.
1999) (citations and quotations omitted).
as here, the Appeals Council considered additional evidence
but denied review, the additional evidence becomes part of
the record for purposes of the Court's analysis. See
Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d at 1163 (“[W]hen
the Appeals Council considers new evidence in deciding
whether to review a decision of the ALJ, that evidence
becomes part of the administrative record, which the district
court must consider when reviewing the Commissioner's
final decision for substantial evidence”; expressly
adopting Ramirez v. Shalala, 8 F.3d 1449, 1452 (9th
Cir. 1993)); Taylor v. Commissioner, 659 F.3d 1228,
1231 (2011) (courts may consider evidence presented for the
first time to the Appeals Council “to determine
whether, in light of the record as a whole, the ALJ's
decision was supported by substantial evidence and was free
of legal error”); Penny v. Sullivan, 2 ...