United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [ECF NOS. 14, 15]
Ted Moskowitz, Chief Judge.
Melanie Joy Clarke seeks review of the Commissioner of Social
Security's denial of her application for disability
insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income. The
parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. (ECF
Nos. 14, 15.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court will
deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant
Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
23, 2012, Plaintiff filed two applications with the Social
Security Administration, one seeking disability and
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, and a second seeking supplemental security
income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
Administrative Record (AR) 216-21, 222-27. In both
applications, she alleged she was disabled because she
suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, anemia,
asthma, acid reflux disease, sickle cell trait, depression,
anxiety, severe insomnia, type 2 diabetes, neuropathy, blood
clots on her lungs, degenerative bone disease, and
constipation. AR 254. Plaintiff was born on September 24,
1970. AR 216. Her alleged disability onset date was June 1,
claim was denied initially on October 30, 2012, and upon
reconsideration on June 11, 2013. AR 107-08, 125-26. On July
30, 2013, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). AR 147-48. A
hearing was held by ALJ Keith Dietterle on October 2, 2014,
at which Plaintiff was represented by an attorney. AR 50-76,
183-202. At the hearing, a medical expert and a vocational
expert testified. AR 50-76, 203-07.
November 22, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
Plaintiff's claim for benefits. AR 31-44. Plaintiff filed
a request for review with the Appeals Council.
Plaintiff's request for review was denied on April 29,
2016, at which point the ALJ's denial of her claim became
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”). AR 1-5.
23, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action seeking review
of the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The Commissioner filed an answer, along with
the administrative record, on September 26, 2016. (ECF Nos.
11, 12.) In accordance with this Court's briefing
schedule, on December 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 14.) On January 9, 2017, the
Commissioner filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and
response in opposition to Plaintiff's summary judgment
motion. (ECF Nos. 15, 16.) Plaintiff did not file a response
to the Commissioner's cross-motion/ opposition.
ALJ'S FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
conducted the five-step sequential analysis set forth in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1530.
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 1, 2001, the alleged
disability onset date. AR 33. At step two, he found Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus,
asthma, anemia, obesity, dysthymic disorder, personality
disorder, somatoform disorder, anxiety disorder, and
posttraumatic stress disorder. Id.
three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. AR 34-36. In making this
determination, he found that Plaintiff had “moderate
difficulties” in “concentration, persistence or
pace.” AR 35.
the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has the residual
functional capacity [(RFC)] to perform light work as defined
in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), ” with the
exception of a number of physical limitations, and that
“she is capable of performing simple, routine tasks in
a non-public setting.” AR 36.
four, the ALJ found Plaintiff was unable to perform past
relevant work as a retail sales clerk. At step five, based on
the testimony of the vocational expert, and considering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the
ALJ found Plaintiff would be able to perform jobs existing in
the national economy, including the positions of a mail clerk
(DOT No. 209.687-026), with 70, 000 positions nationwide, and
marker (DOT 209.587-034), with 213, 000 positions nationwide.
AR 42-43. Accordingly, he concluded that Plaintiff was not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and
denied her claim.