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Guy v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 28, 2017

SHERWOOD GUY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROZELLA A. OLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Sherwood Guy (“Plaintiff”) challenges the Commissioner's denial of his application for supplemental security income benefits (“SSI”). For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         II. PROCEEDINGS BELOW

         On or about August 27, 2013, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the “Act”). (AR 177-78.) Also in August 2013, Plaintiff applied for supplemental social security income pursuant to Title XVI of the Act. (Id. at 155-76.) In both applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning on September 14, 1998. (Id. at 156, 177.) Plaintiff's claims were initially denied on January 16, 2014. (AR 104-09.) Plaintiff then filed a written request for a hearing. (Id. at 111-12.) The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing on June 10, 2015, in Los Angeles, California, at which Plaintiff, represented by an attorney, testified. (Id. at 31-57.) An impartial vocational expert (“VE”) also testified at the hearing. (Id. at 54-56.) At the hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date of disability to August 26, 2013, and voluntarily dismissed his claim for DIB. (Id. at 32.) After the hearing, Plaintiff submitted additional medical records. On September 9, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not been under a disability, pursuant to the Social Security Act, [1] from August 26, 2013, through the decision date. (Id. at 25.) The ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Id. at 1-6.) Plaintiff filed this action on May 16, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1.)

         The ALJ followed a five-step sequential evaluation process to assess whether Plaintiff was disabled under the Social Security Act. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir. 1995). At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 26, 2013, the alleged onset date (“AOD”). (AR 14.) At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the severe impairments of seizure disorder, history of gunshot wounds to the head, and low back arthritis. (Id.) At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” (Id. at 15.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:

[P]erform medium work as defined in 29 CFR 416.967(c) except that the claimant should avoid all hazards such as ladders, heights, or moving machinery.

(AR 16.)

         At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has no past relevant work. (AR 23.) At step five, the ALJ found that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform. (Id. at 23-24.) Accordingly, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has not been under a disability . . . from August 26, 2013, through the date of [the ALJ's] decision.” (Id. at 24.)

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. A court must affirm an ALJ's findings of fact if they are supported by substantial evidence, and if the proper legal standards were applied. Mayes v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 458-59 (9th Cir. 2001). “‘Substantial evidence' means more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). An ALJ can satisfy the substantial evidence requirement “by setting out a detailed and thorough summary of the facts and conflicting clinical evidence, stating his interpretation thereof, and making findings.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 725 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted).

         “[T]he 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 Secretary's conclusion.” Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations and internal quotations omitted). “‘Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, ' the ALJ's decision should be upheld.” Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 528 F.3d 1194, 1198 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005)); see also Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882 (“If the evidence can support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion, we may not substitute our judgment for that of the ALJ.”). The Court may review only “the reasons provided by the ALJ in the disability determination and may not affirm the ALJ on a ground upon which he did not rely.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 874 (9th Cir. 2003)).

         IV. ...


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