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Romingquet v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 20, 2017

JESSICA G. ROMINGQUET, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying an application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”). For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

          Plaintiff, born August 10, 1974, applied on April 10, 2013 for SSI, alleging disability beginning January 2, 2002. Administrative Transcript (“AT”) 54, 140-144. Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work due to arthritis, scoliosis, depression and inability to stand for long. AT 166.

         In a decision dated November 4, 2014, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled.[1] AT 22-29. The ALJ made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 10, 2013, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: back disorder, right shoulder disorder, arthritis, and obesity.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work, but she can never kneel, crawl, or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can only occasionally balance, stoop, crouch, and climb ramps and stairs. She must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards, which are defined as operational control of dangerous moving machinery and unprotected heights. She is also limited to jobs that can be performed while using a hand-held assistive device required for uneven terrain or prolonged ambulation.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work.
6. The claimant was born on August 10, 1974 and was 38 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English.
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case because the claimant does not have past relevant work.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 10, 2013, the date the application was filed.

         AT 22-29.

         ISSUES PRESENTED

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ committed the following errors in finding plaintiff not disabled: (1) the ALJ's reasons for according “little weight” to the majority the opinion of Dr. Senegor, plaintiff's treating neurosurgeon, are not supported by substantial evidence; (2) the ALJ erred by failing to properly consider plaintiff's right shoulder impairment; (3) The ALJ erred in his evaluation of plaintiff's credibility; and (4) the Commissioner failed to sustain her burden of establishing that there is other work in the national economy that plaintiff can perform.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         The court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). It means “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). “The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.” Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “The court will uphold the ALJ's conclusion when the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation.” Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008).

         The record as a whole must be considered, Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986), and both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion weighed. See Jones v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court may not affirm the ALJ's decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Id.; see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence supporting a finding of either disability or nondisability, the finding of the ALJ is conclusive, see Sprague v. Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, ...


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