United States District Court, C.D. California
LAUREN C. CAMPBELL, Plaintiff
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lauren C. Campbell appeals from the Commissioner's denial
of Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).
Plaintiff alleges disability since February 12, 2011, based
on symptoms stemming from arthritis in her neck, shoulder,
and hip; a herniated disc in her neck; Irritable Bowl
Syndrome (“IBS”); depression and anxiety. [Dkt.
24 (“Pltf.'s Mem.”).] Her application for
benefits was denied initially and on reconsideration. An
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing
on July 9, 2014 [Dkt. 15, Administrative Record
(“AR”) 20.], and subsequently denied benefits.
[AR 25.] Plaintiff appealed to the District Court, and both
parties consented to proceed before the undersigned
Magistrate Judge. [Dkts. 11, 12.]
Plaintiff presents three issues for review:
1. Whether the ALJ erred in her analysis of the medical
evidence. Here, Plaintiff primarily challenges whether
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's failure at step
two of the five-step inquiry to find that certain of
Plaintiff's alleged ailments amount to legally severe
impairments, and, relatedly, whether the ALJ's error, if
any, is harmless;
2. Whether the ALJ had specific, legitimate reasons to reject
the assessment of treating physician Dr. Adrienne Beck
regarding Plaintiff's diagnosed Ehlers Danlos syndrome,
in assessing Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
3. Whether the ALJ had a clear and convincing reason
supported by substantial evidence for finding Plaintiff's
subjective complaints to be less than fully credible.
[Pltf.'s Mem., passim.]
order to avoid repetition and for additional reasons, the
Court addresses these issues in a different order than did
the parties. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds
that this matter should be remanded for further proceedings.
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. Commissioner, 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.
Plaintiff shows that the ALJ committed legal error,
“[r]eversal on account of error is not automatic, but
requires a determination of prejudice.” Ludwig v.
Astrue, 681 F.3d 1047, 1054 (9th Cir. 2012).
“[T]he burden of showing that an error is harmful
normally falls upon the party attacking the agency's
determination.” Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d
1104, 1111 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal citation omitted).
“ALJ errors in social security cases are harmless if
they are ‘inconsequential to the ultimate nondisability
determination[.]'” Marsh v. Colvin, 792
F.3d 1170, 1173 (9th Cir. 2015) (internal citation omitted).
case, the Court finds that any error by the ALJ in not
considering certain of Plaintiff's medical conditions to
be legally severe, and the related issue of whether
Plaintiff's impairments met or equaled the requirements
of a listing, is harmless. However, the ALJ did not provide
clear and convincing reasons for rejecting Plaintiff's
subjective complaints of debilitating pain, thus requiring
remand. The Court declines to address the remaining issue
raised by Plaintiff - whether the ALJ properly discounted the
functional assessment of Plaintiff's treating physician -
but notes that, given that the record is now complete