United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF
COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE
ALEXANDER F. MacKINNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Myra Lin Gates filed her application for disability benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act on August 29, 2011
alleging a disability beginning May 15, 2000. After denial on
initial review and on reconsideration, a hearing took place
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on August 21, 2012.
In a written decision dated January 17, 2013, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not under a disability within the meaning
of the Social Security Act from May 15, 2000 through the date
of last insured. The Appeals Council declined to set aside
the ALJ's unfavorable decision in a notice dated March
18, 2014. Plaintiff filed a Complaint herein on January 8,
2016, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of her
application for benefits.
accordance with the Court's case management order,
Plaintiff filed a memorandum in support of the complaint on
September 6, 2016 (“Pl. Mem.”) and the
Commissioner filed a memorandum in support of her answer on
March 8, 2017 (“Def. Mem.”). Plaintiff did not
file a Reply. Thus, this matter now is ready for
reflected in the parties' memoranda, the sole disputed
issue that Plaintiff has raised is whether the ALJ erred in
failing to include the mild mental limitation that he found
Plaintiff to suffer from in his hypothetical to the
vocational expert (VE).
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
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 ...