Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Newbanks v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

July 6, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.



         Steven Arthur Newbanks (“Plaintiff”) appeals from the Social Security Commissioner's final decision denying his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed and this matter is dismissed with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for SSI on October 15, 2012, alleging disability beginning August 13, 2012. Administrative Record (“AR”) 150. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially, AR 78-82, and on reconsideration, AR 87-91. Plaintiff requested a hearing, which took place on December 3, 2014; the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) took testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”). AR 30-47.

         In a written decision issued February 20, 2015, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claim. AR 17-25. She found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of follicular lymphoma; obstructive pulmonary disease; right elbow epicondylitis; right wrist degenerative joint disease; left cubital tunnel syndrome; degenerative disc disease of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine; anxiety disorder; borderline intellectual functioning; and antisocial personality traits. AR 19. She concluded that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the severity of a listed impairment. AR 20-21. She found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with several additional limitations, most notably a limitation to performing simple, repetitive tasks with limited public interaction. AR 21. She found that Plaintiff was incapable of performing any past relevant work because his prior jobs involved medium work. AR 24. But based on the VE's testimony, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could work as an assembler, garment sorter, and router. AR 24-25. Therefore, she concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 25.

         Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's decision. AR 12-13. On May 3, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 1-4. This action followed.


         The parties dispute whether the ALJ (1) fully and fairly developed the record, (2) properly assessed Plaintiff's RFC, and (3) posed a complete hypothetical to the VE. See Joint Stipulation (“JS”) at 2.

         A. Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff's medical records included an unsigned treating physician general medical evaluation completed by “Dr. Cohn” on December 20, 2012. AR 223-24. The evaluation indicates that Plaintiff was examined on September 5, 2012. AR 223. The evaluation reported a “hernia in belly” and “cancer left breach - colon.” AR 224. Plaintiff's records contained other references to a hernia. In 2006, Plaintiff had surgery to repair an inguinal hernia. AR 226, 369. A May 7, 2014 radiology report referred to a “periumbilical hernia containing fat only.” AR 259. The ALJ noted that Plaintiff had been diagnosed with lymphoma but that the record otherwise contained “no indication of colon cancer.” AR 19. She also observed that there was no follow-up treatment or further diagnostic tests performed regarding the periumbilical hernia. Id.

         During the administrative hearing, Plaintiff's attorney asked Plaintiff what medical problems prevented him from working. AR 33. He indicated that he had been diagnosed with cancer in 2014. AR 33-35. Plaintiff's attorney also asked what conditions prevented him from working at the time he applied for disability benefits in 2012. AR 38. Plaintiff identified tendinitis in his right hand and wrist and anxiety. AR 39-40.

         Clinical psychologist Mark Pierce performed a psychological examination of Plaintiff on March 7, 2013. AR 233-38. Dr. Pierce diagnosed anxiety disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, and antisocial personality traits. AR 237. He opined that Plaintiff retained the capacity to “complete simple and repetitive skills and to adapt to minimal changes in the work environment.” AR 238. Dr. Pierce found that Plaintiff's “[r]easoning capacities” were “adequate to this lower level of vocational functioning, ” noting that Plaintiff had not indicated any “significant adaptive deficits.” Id.

         The ALJ stated that Plaintiff's mental RFC was “based on the . . . evaluation performed by [Dr. Pierce] in March 2013.” Id. She noted Dr. Pierce's opinion that Plaintiff retained the ability to adapt to minimal changes in the work environment. Id. However, as noted above, the RFC states that Plaintiff can only “perform simple repetitive tasks with limited public interaction.” AR 21.

         B. The ALJ Fully and Fairly ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.