United States District Court, C.D. California
BERTA I. POSADA, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING THE DECISION
OF THE COMMISSIONER
ALEXANDER F. MacKINNON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Berta I. Posada filed her application for disability benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act on June 3, 2012.
After denial on initial review and on reconsideration, a
video hearing took place before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) on June 25, 2014, at which Plaintiff testified on her
own behalf with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter. In a
decision dated August 11, 2014, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not under a disability within the meaning of the Social
Security Act at any time from March 1, 2008, the alleged
onset date, through December 31, 2012, the date last insured.
The Appeals Council declined to set aside the ALJ's
unfavorable decision in a notice dated March 9, 2016.
Plaintiff filed a Complaint herein on May 2, 2016, seeking
review of the Commissioner's denial of her application
accordance with the Court's Order Re: Procedures in
Social Security Appeal, Plaintiff filed a memorandum in
support of the complaint on November 10, 2016 (“Pl.
Mem.”); the Commissioner filed a memorandum in support
of her answer on January 19, 2017 (“Def. Mem.”);
and Plaintiff filed a reply on February 2, 2017 (“Pl.
Reply”). This matter now is ready for
reflected in the parties' memoranda, the sole disputed
issue is whether the ALJ properly rejected plaintiff's
pain and symptom testimony.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied.
See Treichler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 775
F.3d 1090, 1098 (9th Cir. 2014). Substantial evidence means
“more than a mere scintilla” but less than a
preponderance. See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971); Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d
1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401. This Court must review
the record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that
supports and the evidence that detracts from the
Commissioner's conclusion. Lingenfelter, 504
F.3d at 1035. Where evidence is susceptible of more than one
rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must
be upheld. See Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th
FIVE-STEP EVALUATION PROCESS
Commissioner (or ALJ) follows a five-step sequential
evaluation process in assessing whether a claimant is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920;
Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir.
1995), as amended April 9, 1996. In the first step,
the Commissioner must determine whether the claimant is
currently engaged in substantial gainful activity; if so, the
claimant is not disabled and the claim is denied.
Id. If the claimant is not currently engaged in
substantial gainful activity, the second step requires the
Commissioner to determine whether the claimant has a
“severe” impairment or combination of impairments
significantly limiting his ability to do basic work
activities; if not, a finding of nondisability is made and
the claim is denied. Id. If the claimant has a
“severe” impairment or combination of
impairments, the third step requires the Commissioner to
determine whether the impairment or combination of
impairments meets or equals an impairment in the Listing of
Impairments (“Listing”) set forth at 20 C.F.R.
part 404, subpart P, appendix 1; if so, disability is
conclusively presumed and benefits are awarded. Id.
If the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments does not meet or equal an impairment in the
Listing, the fourth step requires the Commissioner to
determine whether the claimant has sufficient “residual
functional capacity” to perform his past work; if so,
the claimant is not disabled and the claim is denied.
Id. The claimant has the burden of proving that he
is unable to perform past relevant work. Drouin v.
Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992). If the
claimant meets ...