United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge.
Jennifer Gonzales (“Plaintiff”) seeks review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner” or
“Agency”) denying her application for Title II
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Title
XVI Supplemental Security Income Benefits
(“SSI”). The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons
stated below, the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
March 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI
alleging a disability onset date of December 15, 2010 for
both. Administrative Record (“AR”) at 163-77.
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially on July
23, 2013, and upon reconsideration on March 6, 2014.
Id. at 102-06, 108-15.
1, 2014, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Id. at
120. On July 16, 2015, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and
testified at a hearing before the assigned ALJ. Id.
at 25-41. A vocational expert (“VE”) also
testified at the hearing. Id. at 39-41. On August
27, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's
applications for DIB and SSI. Id. at 8-24.
October 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed a request to the
Agency's Appeals Council to review the ALJ's
decision. Id. at 7. On October 7, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
Id. at 1-6.
November 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action. ECF
Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. This matter is
before the Court on the parties' Joint Stipulation
(“JS”), filed on July 5, 2017, which the Court
has taken under submission. Dkt. 19, JS.
was born on January 20, 1966 and her alleged disability onset
date is December 15, 2010. AR at 163-77. She was forty-four
years old on the alleged disability onset date and forty-nine
at the time of the hearing before the ALJ. Id. at
11, 19. Plaintiff has obtained her GED and has prior work
experience as a cashier/sales associate, and nurse's
assistant. Id. at 212. Plaintiff alleges disability
based on “congestive heart failure, panic disorder,
anemia, hypertension, pre-diabetic.” Id. at
FOR EVALUATING DISABILITY
qualify for DIB and SSI, a claimant must demonstrate a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
prevents her from engaging in substantial gainful activity,
and that is expected to result in death or to last for a
continuous period of at least twelve months. Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998). The
impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing
the work she previously performed and incapable of performing
any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the
national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094,
1098 (9th Cir. 1999).
decide if a claimant is disabled, and therefore entitled to
benefits, an ALJ conducts a five-step inquiry. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. The steps are:
1. Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful
activity? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not,
proceed to step two.
2. Is the claimant's impairment severe? If not, the
claimant is found not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.
3. Does the claimant's impairment meet or equal one of
the specific impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is found disabled.
If not, proceed to step four.
4. Is the claimant capable of performing work she has done in
the past? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not,
proceed to step five.
5. Is the claimant able to do any other work? If not, the
claimant is found disabled. If so, the claimant is found not
See Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-99; see also
Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir.
2001); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1),
claimant has the burden of proof at steps one through four,
and the Commissioner has the burden of proof at step five.
Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953-54. Additionally, the
ALJ has an affirmative duty to assist the claimant in
developing the record at every step of the inquiry.
Id. at 954. If, at step four, the claimant meets her
burden of establishing an inability to perform past work, the
Commissioner must show that the claimant can perform some
other work that exists in “significant numbers”
in the national economy, taking into account the
claimant's residual functional capacity