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Clamp v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 6, 2017

MICHAEL JOHN CLAMP, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          ORDER DIRECTING ENTRY OF JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANT NANCY BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, AND AGAINST PLAINTIFF MICHAEL JOHN CLAMP

          Gary S. Austin, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Michael John Clamp (“Plaintiff”), seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner” or “Defendant”) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs which were submitted without oral argument to the Honorable Gary S. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge.[2] (See, Docs. 21 and 23). Upon a review of the entire record, the Court finds that the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and the decision is supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court AFFIRMS the agency's disability determination and DENIES Plaintiff's appeal.

         II. FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS[3]

         A. Background

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB due to bipolar disorder, depression, severe neuropathy, anal/rectal pain, and high cholesterol. AR 14; 234. The parties agree that the Plaintiff properly exhausted his administrative remedies and that the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's appeal. (Doc. 21, pg. 2 and Doc. 23, pg. 2). Therefore, this appeal is a review of Administrative Law Judge Cynthia Floyd's (“ALJ”) decision issued on October 17, 2014, which is considered the Commissioner's final order. See, 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). AR 11-22.

         B. Summary of the Medical Record

          The Court has reviewed the entire medical record. Relevant portions of the record will be referenced in the discussion where appropriate. AR 318-840.

         III. THE DISABILITY STANDARD

         To qualify for benefits under the Social Security Act, a plaintiff must establish that he or she is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). An individual shall be considered to have a disability only if:

. . . his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work, but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B).

         To achieve uniformity in the decision-making process, the Commissioner has established a sequential five-step process for evaluating a claimant's alleged disability. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). The ALJ proceeds through the steps and stops upon reaching a dispositive finding that the claimant is or is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The ALJ must consider objective medical evidence and opinion testimony. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513.

         Specifically, the ALJ is required to determine: (1) whether a claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period of alleged disability; (2) whether the claimant had medically-determinable “severe” impairments; (3) whether these impairments meet or are medically equivalent to one of the listed impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; (4) whether the claimant retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform his past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant had the ability to perform other jobs existing in significant numbers at the regional and national level. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4).

          IV. SUMMARY OF THE ...


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