United States District Court, C.D. California
CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
filed a complaint on August 4, 2016, seeking review of the
Commissioner's denial of benefits. The parties consented
to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on
September 21, 2016. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary
judgment on April 25, 2017. Defendant filed a motion for
summary judgment on May 25, 2017. The Court has taken the
motions under submission without oral argument. See
L.R. 7-15; “Order, ” filed August 5, 2016. ///
asserted disability based on several alleged impairments
(Administrative Record (“A.R.”) 40-51, 54-62,
71-75, 78-81, 214-17, 225). Plaintiff testified to allegedly
disabling functional restrictions (A.R. 49-51, 61-62, 72-81).
a previous administrative remand, the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) examined the medical record and
heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert (A.R.
17-310, 314-618). The ALJ found Plaintiff's testimony
“not entirely credible” (A.R. 26). According to
the ALJ, “[e]xaggeration of symptoms is repeatedly
suggested throughout the medical record. . . .” (A.R.
27). The ALJ also observed that Dr. Alexander White, a
non-treating, non-examining physician, had believed that all
of Plaintiff's alleged symptoms were “significantly
out of proportion to identifiable physical processes”
(A.R. 27, 443).
determined that Plaintiff retains the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with
certain restrictions (A.R. 23). This RFC is largely consistent
with the reports and opinions of the physicians of record
(A.R. 327-30, 333-50, 362-66, 378-79, 403, 441-53, 486, 539,
545-50). The ALJ discussed these reports and opinions in
considerable detail, including the report and opinion of Dr.
White (A.R. 24-27). The ALJ declined to incorporate into the
RFC every aspect of Dr. White's opinion, omitting the
aspect that would have restricted Plaintiff to work not
requiring more than occasional reaching, handling, fingering,
and feeling with the left hand (A.R. 23, 448). When asked to
identify in writing “the particular medical or clinical
findings” supporting an alleged restriction to
occasional use of the left hand, Dr. White wrote only
“giving Pt. the benefit of doubt of injury to the L.
hand” (A.R. 448).
vocational expert testified that a person having the RFC
assessed by the ALJ could perform certain jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy (A.R. 83-84). In
reliance on this testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled (A.R. 28-29). The Appeals Council considered
additional evidence but denied review (A.R. 1-5, 311-13,
now argues a single alleged administrative error. According
to Plaintiff, the ALJ erred by assertedly failing to state
“specific and legitimate reasons” for not
incorporating into the RFC Dr. White's opinion
restricting Plaintiff to occasional use of the left hand.
42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the
Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the
Administration's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Administration 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); see also Brewes v.
Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012).
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) (citation and quotations omitted); see
also Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir.
If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the
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
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir.
1999) (citations and quotations omitted).
as here, the Appeals Council considered additional evidence
but denied review, the additional evidence becomes part of
the record for purposes of the Court's analysis. See
Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d at 1163 (“[W]hen
the Appeals Council considers new evidence in deciding
whether to review a decision of the ALJ, that evidence
becomes part of the administrative record, which the district
court must consider when reviewing the Commissioner's
final decision for substantial evidence”; expressly
adopting Ramirez v. Shalala, 8 F.3d 1449, 1452 (9th
Cir. 1993)); Taylor v. Commissioner, 659 F.3d 1228,
1231 (2011) (courts may consider evidence presented for the
first time to the Appeals Council “to determine
whether, in light of the record as a whole, the ALJ's
decision was supported by substantial evidence and ...