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Hall v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 23, 2017

MICHAEL HALL, Plaintiff
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GAIL J. STANDISH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff Michael Hall (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). The parties filed consents to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts. 10, 11] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case [Dkt. 17 (“Pltf.'s Br.”); Dkt. 16 (“Def.'s Br.”)]. The Court has taken the parties' briefing under submission without oral argument. For the reasons discussed below, the Court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW

         On September 12, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging that he became disabled as of January 19, 2012. [Dkt. 14, Administrative Record (“AR”) 12.] The Commissioner denied his initial claim for benefits on February 5, 2013, and then denied his claim upon reconsideration on August 7, 2013. [Id.] On May 8, 2014, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Ariel L. Sotolongo. [AR 25-65.] The ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's request for benefits on July 25, 2014. [AR 9-24.] Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council, but the Appeals Council denied his request for review on January 8, 2015. [AR 1-4.]

         Applying the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1). At step one, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of January 19, 2012 through his date last insured of June 30, 2012. [AR 14 (citing C.F.R. § 404.1571 et seq.).] At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: degenerative lumbar disease, with chronic low back pain; seizure disorder; and diabetic neuropathy. [Id. (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c)).] Next, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. [AR 455 (citing 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526).]

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional capacity (RFC):

[L]ight work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). The claimant can lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He can stand/walk 4 hours and sit 4 hours each in an 8-hour workday. The claimant requires a sit/stand option allowing the claimant to alternate positions about once per hour. The claimant can engage in occasional stooping. The claimant is subject to seizure precautions, including avoiding hazards such as unprotected heights and working around dangerous machinery.

[AR 15.] Applying this RFC, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant work as a customer service clerk (DOT 241.367-014) and telemarketer (DOT 299.357-014) and, thus, is not disabled. [AR 19-20.]

         III. GOVERNING STANDARD

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (internal citation and quotations omitted); see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff contends that the ALJ: (1) erred in the assessment of his credibility and (2) erred in the assessment of weight accorded to the opinions of the treating, examining, and non-examining physicians. [Pltf.'s Br. at 1-2.] The Court disagrees.

         A. The ALJ's Opinion Provides At Least One Clear and Convincing Reason ...


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