United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
FREDERICK F. MUMM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
brings this action seeking to overturn the decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration denying his application for Disability
Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff and defendant consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pursuant to the
May 9, 2016, Case Management Order, on December 6, 2016, the
parties filed a Joint Stipulation (“JS”)
detailing each party's arguments and authorities. The
Court has reviewed the administrative record (the
“AR”), filed on September 26, 2016, and the Joint
Stipulation. For the reasons stated below, the decision of
the Commissioner is reversed and this matter is reversed and
this matter is remanded for further proceedings.
10, 2012, plaintiff applied for disability insurance
benefits. (AR 172-83.) Plaintiff's application was denied
initially and on review. (AR 68-104.) Plaintiff then
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (AR 122-23.) On June 19, 2014, ALJ Keith
Dietterle held a hearing. (AR 27-56.) Plaintiff, a medical
expert, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified
at the hearing. (See generally id.)
September 17, 2014, the ALJ denied plaintiff benefits in a
written decision. (AR 10-25.) After reviewing the evidence,
the ALJ determined that plaintiff possesses the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform:
a wide range of light work . . . except [plaintiff] is
limited to lifting-carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently; is limited to sitting six hours and
standing-walking six hours in an eight-hour workday; is
limited to climbing ramps and stairs occasionally; is limited
to frequently balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and
crawling; can never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds;
cannot do repetitive power gripping or grasping or repetitive
fingering; cannot have any concentrated exposure to
unprotected heights, dangerous or fast moving machinery,
extremes in temperature, or vibrating tools; and is limited
to no more than moderately complex tasks.
(AR 18.) In determining plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ assigned
“little weight” to the opinions of Dr. Don Mills,
plaintiff's treating physician. (AR 20.) Based on
plaintiff's RFC and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ
ultimately determined that plaintiff can perform his past
relevant work and therefore is not disabled. (AR 20-21.)
February 26, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review. (AR
1-6.) Thereafter, plaintiff initiated this action.
raises a single contention in this action:
Whether the ALJ properly considered the opinions of
plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Mills.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the
Administration's decisions to determine if: (1) the
Administration's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Administration used proper legal
standards. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th
Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). “Substantial evidence
is more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d
715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). To determine
whether substantial evidence supports a finding, “a
court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both
evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the
[Commissioner's] conclusion.” Auckland v.
Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
evidence in the record can reasonably support either
affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion, the Court
may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th
Cir. 2006) (citing Flaten v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995).
However, even if substantial evidence exists to support the
Commissioner's decision, the decision must be reversed if
the proper legal ...