United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
MELVIN W. QUINTANILLA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK United States Magistrate Judge
W. Quintanilla (“Plaintiff”) appeals from the
Social Security Commissioner's final decision denying his
application for supplemental security income. For the reasons
discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed
and this matter is dismissed with prejudice.
applied for disability insurance benefits on January 22,
2013, alleging disability beginning December 7, 1998.
Administrative Record (“AR”) 92, 208-09. He
applied for supplemental security income on January 31, 2013,
alleging disability beginning November 11, 2010. AR 93,
210-19. These claims were denied initially, AR 120-30, and
upon reconsideration, AR 133-36, 142-45. Plaintiff requested
a hearing, which took place on January 27, 2015; the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) took testimony
from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a
vocational expert (“VE”). AR 39-71. At the
hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to October
19, 2012, and withdrew his disability insurance benefits
application. AR 42-44.
written decision issued February 26, 2015, the ALJ denied
Plaintiff's claim. AR 21-33. The ALJ found that Plaintiff
had the severe impairments of bipolar disorder and schizo
affective disorder, but his impairments did not equal the
severity of a listed impairment. AR 26-27. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels, with the following non-exertional
limitations: Plaintiff could (1) maintain attention and
concentration to perform simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks; (2) have occasional interaction with coworkers and
supervisors, but no direct interaction with the general
public; and (3) work in an environment with occasional
changes to the work setting and occasional work-related
decision-making. AR 27-28. Based on the VE's testimony,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was capable of performing his
past relevant work as an assembler, and, in the alternative,
he could work as a cleaner, packager, and machine feeder. AR
31-33. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not
disabled. AR 33.
requested review of the ALJ's decision. AR 17. On
December 21, 2015, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 1-6.
This action followed.
parties dispute whether the ALJ (1) properly rejected the
opinion of Dr. Luke Meier and (2) adequately considered the
opinion of Dr. Raman Chahal. See Joint Stipulation
(“JS”) at 4. A. Relevant Facts 1. Dr.
Meier Dr. Meier examined Plaintiff on February 19, 2013, and
completed a Mental Health Comprehensive Evaluation.
See AR 495-504. Dr. Meier opined that
Plaintiff's prognosis was “poor.” AR 503. Dr.
Meier noted that, despite Plaintiff's continual use of
psychotropic medication, Plaintiff “continues to have
difficulty controlling his auditory and visual hallucinations
which encourage him to hurt himself, others, and destroy
property.” Id. Dr. Meier also noted that
Plaintiff was “in a persistent state of agitation and
isolation.” Id. Dr. Meier found that
Plaintiff's “sever[e] and chronic mental illness
has negatively impacted all areas of his daily
functioning.” Id. Dr, Meier noted that,
throughout his evaluation, Plaintiff “demonstrated that
because of the severity of his symptoms, it is doubtful that
he could obtain or maintain full time employment.”
Id. Thus, Dr. Meier opined that Plaintiff was
“unemployable and unable to do any gainful/substantial
work for the next twelve months.” Id.
gave no weight to Dr. Meier's opinion for the following
Dr. Meier assessed the claimant's Global Assessment
Functioning (GAF) scores to be as low as 43 and 32 and noted
that he was unemployable and unable to perform substantial
gainful activity for the next 12 months. First, the
determination of disability is solely reserved for the
Commissioner. Moreover, Dr. Meier's opinions are
inconsistent with the objective medical evidence. He noted
that the claimant was “failing his classes.”
However, he reported that he was getting “B”s and
“C”s. Additionally, [Dr. Meier] noted that the
claimant was unable to watch TV because he is unable to
concentrate. However, the claimant's aunt noted that he
spends his day watching television. Moreover, the report
noted that he frequently got into trouble during his
employment as an Assembler and had several physical
altercations with his coworkers. However, the claimant
reported that he was laid off and not fired, and he had no
problems with his coworkers. As such, Dr. Meier's
report is inconsistent with the objective medical evidence
and the claimant's reported activities and is therefore
AR 29 (citations ...