United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER AFFIRMING
ROSENBLUTH, U.S. Magistrate Judge
seeks review of the Commissioner's final decision denying
his applications for Social Security disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income
benefits (“SSI”). The parties consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge under
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The matter is before the Court on
the parties' Joint Stipulation, filed May 30, 2017, which
the Court has taken under submission without oral argument.
For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision
was born in 1966. (Administrative Record (“AR”)
56.) He completed 10th grade (AR 45, 352), received his GED
in jail (id.), and worked as a care provider and
pipe cutter (AR 66-67, 290-92).
April 1, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB (AR
69), and on April 18 he filed one for SSI (AR 83). In both
applications, Plaintiff alleged that he had been unable to
work since March 25, 2015, because of skin cancer, bipolar
disorder, anxiety, and a torn rotator cuff in his right
shoulder. (AR 60, 74.) After his applications were
denied initially (AR 56-83) and on reconsideration (AR
84-113), he requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (AR 128). A hearing was held on June 13, 2016, at which
Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, testified, as did
a vocational expert. (AR 42-55.) In a written decision issued
June 27, 2016, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. (AR
7-20.) Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council,
and on August 17, 2016, it denied review. (AR 1-3.) This
STANDARD OF REVIEW
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's
findings and decision should be upheld if they are free of
legal error and supported by substantial evidence based on
the record as a whole. See id.; Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Parra v.
Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial
evidence means such evidence as a reasonable person might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; Lingenfelter v.
Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). It is more
than a scintilla but less than a preponderance.
Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035 (citing Robbins
v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)).
To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding,
the reviewing court “must review the administrative
record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports
and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's
conclusion.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715,
720 (9th Cir. 1996). “If the evidence can reasonably
support either affirming or reversing, ” the reviewing
court “may not substitute its judgment” for the
Commissioner's. Id. at 720-21.
THE EVALUATION OF DISABILITY
are “disabled” for purposes of receiving Social
Security benefits if they are unable to engage in any
substantial gainful activity owing to a physical or mental
impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted,
or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least
12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); Drouin v.
Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).
The Five-Step Evaluation Process
follows a five-step sequential evaluation process to assess
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4); Lester v. Chater, 81
F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir. 1995) (as amended Apr. 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
must be denied. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i),
claimant is not 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, the claimant is not
disabled and his claim must be denied. §§
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 set forth at 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P,
appendix 1; if ...