United States District Court, C.D. California
MITZI M. CRENSHAW, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ROZELLA A. OLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Mitzi M. Crenshaw (“Plaintiff”) challenges the
Commissioner'sdenial of her application for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”). For the reasons
stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
26, 2010, Plaintiff protectively applied for DIB alleging
disability beginning June 8, 2009. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) 77, 250-58.) Her application was denied
initially on November 16, 2010, and upon reconsideration on
March 11, 2011. (AR 100-01, 120-24, 126-30.) Plaintiff
requested a hearing, and a hearing was held on March 16,
2012. (AR 72-92.) Appearing unrepresented, Plaintiff
testified, along with an impartial vocational expert. (AR
74-91.) On September 4, 2012, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, pursuant to the Social Security Act,
from June 8, 2009, through the decision date. (AR 112.)
Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the
decision, and on March 13, 2014, the Appeals Council vacated
the decision and remanded the case to an ALJ. (AR 117-19.)
Upon remand, the ALJ was directed to further evaluate the
effect of a prior ALJ decision from 2003,  give further
consideration to treating source opinions and explain the
weight given to such opinion evidence, and further evaluate
Plaintiff's ability to perform her past relevant work.
(AR 117-19.) After remand, a second hearing was held on June
24, 2014, at which Plaintiff, represented by an attorney,
testified. (AR 27-71.) An impartial medical expert and an
impartial vocational expert also testified at the hearing.
(AR 33-45, 60-70.) On July 23, 2014, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, pursuant to the
Social Security Act, from June 8, 2009, through the decision
date. (AR 11-21.) The ALJ's decision became the
Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR 1-4.)
Plaintiff filed this action on May 10, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1.)
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 the alleged onset date. (AR 14.) At step
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the severe
impairments of carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes mellitus with
noncompliance, hypertension, renal mass, gastroesophageal
reflux disease, obesity, history of left Achilles tendon
repair, and Baker's cyst. (AR 14.) 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.”
proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
[P]erform light work . . . except [she] can perform
occasional postural activities; she cannot climb ladders,
ropes and scaffolds; she is limited to occasional fine or
gross manipulations; [she] must avoid exposure to hazards;
she must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme temperatures;
she requires restroom access; and she cannot perform work
where intact sensation of the hands is required for safety.
step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is
able to perform past relevant work as a lobby director/escort
as actually performed. (AR 20-21.) Accordingly, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 21.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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
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)).
raised two issues in her appeal. First, she contends that the
ALJ failed to properly consider and explain what weight he
assigned to the opinions of her treating physician, Dr. Edwin
Ashley, in violation of the remand order. Second, Plaintiff
contends that the ALJ failed to properly consider
Plaintiff's testimony and make proper credibility
findings. The Court addresses each claim in turn.
Compliance with Remand Order and Evaluation of Dr.