United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jay C. Gandhi United States Magistrate Judge
Ambriz (“Plaintiff”) challenges the Social
Security Commissioner (“Commissioner”)'s
decision denying her application for disability benefits.
Three issues are presented for decision here:
1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
properly assessed the treating physician's opinion
(see Joint Stipulation (“Joint Stip.”)
at 4-9, 14);
2. Whether new evidence submitted for the first time to the
Appeals Council supports a remand (id. at 4, 14-15,
3. Whether the ALJ properly relied on the vocational expert
(“VE”)'s job-numbers testimony (see
id. at 4, 17-20, 24).
Court addresses Plaintiff's contentions below, and finds
that reversal is not warranted.
The ALJ Provided Specific and Legitimate Reasons for
Discounting The Treating Physician's Opinion
contends that the ALJ improperly assessed the opinion of
treating physician Dr. Linda Atkinson. (Joint Stip. at 4-9,
rule, if an ALJ wishes to disregard the opinion of a treating
or examining physician, “he or she must make findings
setting forth specific, legitimate reasons for doing so that
are based on substantial evidence in the record.”
Murray v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 499, 502 (9th Cir.
1983); accord Carmickle v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec.
Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1164 (9th Cir. 2008).
the ALJ properly declined to assign controlling
weight to Dr. Atkinson's
opinion for three reasons.
the opinion was not supported by the clinical findings of the
record as a whole. (AR at 216); see Batson v. Comm'r
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1197 (9th Cir.
2004) (even opinion of treating physician need not be
accepted if inadequately supported by clinical findings);
Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir.
1989) (reviewing court must affirm Commissioner's
decision if it is based on proper legal standards and
findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in
“record as a whole”). For example, (1) a nerve
conduction study showed borderline carpal tunnel syndrome of
the left extremity and no evidence of the syndrome in the
right extremity; (2) Plaintiff was treated conservatively
with wrist splints at night and cortisone injection therapy,
on an as needed basis; and (3) an examination showed grip
strength of the hands of 5/5 bilaterally. (AR at 211, 215-16,
Dr. Atkinson's opinion conflicted with the State agency
examining opinion of Dr. Azizollah Karamlou. (AR at 27);
see Batson, 359 F.3d at 1197 (“[I]t was
permissible for the ALJ to give [treating physician opinions]
minimal evidentiary weight, in light of . . . opinions and
observations of other doctors.”); Kane v.
Colvin, 2015 WL 5317149, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 10,
2015) (ALJ properly rejected treating physician's opinion
in part because it was contradicted by state agency
physicians' less severe limitation findings).
Plaintiff was able to perform activities of daily living that
demonstrated she could perform gross handling with little
problem, such as: (1) managing a checkbook; (2) using a
computer; (3) typing on a keyboard; (4) doing laundry; (5)
helping children with homework; (6) driving children to and
from school and sporting events; and (7) preparing meals. (AR
at 215-16, 238, 241-42, 246, 372, 375, 382-85); see
Ghanim v. Colvin, 763 F.3d 1154, 1162 (9th Cir. 2014)
(inconsistency between physician's opinion and
claimant's daily activities may justify rejection of
opinion); cf. Rollins v. Massanari, 261 F.3d 853,
857 (9th Cir. 2001) (ALJ properly discounted subjective
complaints based in part on claimant's ability to attend
to needs of her two children, cook, and do laundry). The ALJ
specifically highlighted the transferability of
Plaintiff's independent ability to do laundry for the
five people in her ...