United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Cathleen Lawler (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint
seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Social Security Income
(“SSI”). The parties filed consents to proceed
before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts.
11 and 12] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case
[Dkt. 17 (“Pltf.'s Br.”); Dkt. 19
(“Def.'s Br.”)]. The Court has taken the
parties' briefing under submission without oral argument.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that this
matter should be remanded for further proceedings.
ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW
February 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for both
DIB and SSI, alleging disability as of September 23, 2012.
[Dkt. 15, Administrative Record (“AR”) 88, 89.]
The Commissioner denied her initial claim for benefits and
then denied her claim upon reconsideration. [AR 63, 87.] On
September 8, 2014, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) John Kays held a hearing. [AR 25, 8-24.]
On December 17, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision denying
Plaintiff's request for benefits. [AR 8-22.] Plaintiff
requested review from the Appeals Council, and on March 28,
2016, the Appeals Council denied review. [AR 1-5.]
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1); 416.920(b)-(g)(1). At step one,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since September 23, 2012, the
alleged onset date. [AR 13.] At step two, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments:
morbid obesity, bilateral knee degenerative joint disease,
status post right knee arthroscopic surgery; and right foot
degenerative joint disease. [Id. (citing 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c).] Next, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments. [AR 14 (citing 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d),
416.925, and 416.926).]
found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional
[T]o perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and
416.967(c) except: lifting no more than 50 pounds
occasionally, 25 pounds frequently; restricted to standing
and walking 4 hours; sitting 6 hours.
15.] Applying this RFC, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was able to perform her past relevant work as a Home Health
Aide. [AR 18.]
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai
v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007).
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) (internal citation and quotations omitted);
see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074.
contends that the ALJ erred in failing to consider the
entirety of the opinion of Dr. John Chung, a consultative
examiner who performed an Orthopedic Evaluation of Plaintiff.
[Pltf.'s Br. at 6.] Dr. Chung assessed Plaintiff's
limitations as follows:
Based on the objective finding, it is my opinion that she had
no limitation to use both upper extremities to perform any
task at or above shoulder level. She has had no limitation of
activity, which requires agility. In an 8-hour day, she is
able to stand and walk 4 hours and sit for 6 hours. She is
able to carry and lift 25 pounds on a frequent basis and 50
pounds on an occasional basis. There is no postural
limitation. However, there is environmental ...