United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division
SAGAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
13, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review of the
denial of his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
and Supplemental Security Income. (Docket Entry No. 1). The
parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry Nos. 11-12). On
September 26, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer along with the
Administrative Record (“AR”). (Docket Entry Nos.
15-16). On December 22, 2016, the parties filed a Joint
Stipulation (“Joint Stip.”), setting forth their
respective positions regarding Plaintiff's claims.
(Docket Entry No. 17).
Court has taken this matter under submission without oral
argument. See C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15; “Order Re:
Procedures in Social Security Case, ” filed May 16,
2016 (Docket Entry No. 9).
AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
2, 2013, Plaintiff, formerly employed as an ice cream truck
driver, a golf course maintenance worker, and a cashier at a
market (see AR 33, 197, 202-07), filed applications
for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security
Income, alleging a disability since April 2, 2013. (AR
174-78, 182-84). On October 28, 2014, the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”), Joan Ho, heard testimony from
Plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and vocational
expert Kelly Winn-Boaitey. (See AR 27-60). On
December 23, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision denying
Plaintiff's applications. (See AR 13-20). After
determining that Plaintiff had severe impairments --
“degenerative disc disease of the thoracic spine and
lumbar spine; lubago; and bilateral shoulder acromial
downsloping” (AR 15-16) --, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the following: lifting and/or
carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frquently;
standing and/or walking for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday;
sitting for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; and climbing,
balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling
occasionally. (AR 16-20). Finding that Plaintiff was capable
of performing past relevant work as a peddler as generally
performed and as a cashier/checker as actually and generally
performed, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 20).
requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
Decision. (See AR 9). The request was denied on
April 8, 2016. (See AR 1-3). The ALJ's Decision
then became the final decision of the Commissioner, allowing
this Court to review the decision. See 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c).
alleges that the ALJ failed to properly (1) reject the
opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Akmakjian;
and (2) pose a complete hypothetical question to the
vocational expert. (See Joint Stip. at 3-9, 13-16,
consideration of the record as a whole, the Court finds that
the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence and are free from material legal
The ALJ Properly Rejected the Opinion of Plaintiff's
Treating Physician, Jack Akmakjian, M.D.
asserts that the ALJ failed to provide specific and
legitimate reasons for rejecting the opinion of
Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Akmakjian.
(See Joint Stip. at 3-9, 13). Defendant asserts that
the ALJ provided valid reasons for rejecting Dr.
Akmakjian's opinion. (See Joint Stip. at 9-13).
a treating physician's opinion is generally afforded the
greatest weight in disability cases, it is not binding on an
ALJ with respect to the existence of an impairment or the
ultimate determination of disability. Batson v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1195 (9th
Cir. 2004); Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 751
(9th Cir. 1989). The weight given a treating physician's
opinion depends on whether it is supported by sufficient
medical data and is consistent with other evidence in the
record. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(b)-(d), 416.927(b)-(d).
“Generally, a treating physician's opinion carries
more weight than an examining physician's, and an