United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Carolyn Ann Wiles (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint
seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of her
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). The parties filed consents to proceed
before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts.
10, 24] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case
[Dkt. 19 (“Pltf.'s Br.”) and Dkt. 20
(“Def.'s Br.”), Dkt. 21 (“Pltf.'s
Reply).] The Court has taken the parties' briefing under
submission without oral argument. For the reasons discussed
below, the Court finds that this matter should be remanded
for further proceedings.
ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW
January 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB.
[Dkt. 13, Administrative Record (“AR”) 17,
165-173.] Plaintiff also filed an application for SSI on
January 31, 2013. [Id.; 155-164] The Commissioner
denied her initial claims for benefits on June 7, 2013, and
upon reconsideration on September 27, 2013. [Id.] On
May 18, 2015, a hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Mary L. Everstein. [AR 32-62.] On
June 23, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying
Plaintiff's request for benefits. [AR 17-31.] Plaintiff
requested review from the Appeals Council, which denied
review on November 2, 2016. [AR 1-6.]
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1); 416.920(b)-(g)(1). At step
one, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 17, 2012, the alleged
onset date, through December 31, 2016, her date last insured.
[AR 19.] At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered
from the following severe impairments: history of right
shoulder acromioplasty with rotator cup repair; scoliosis;
depression; anxiety; headaches; and chronic neck and back
sprain/strain. [Id. (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).] Next, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments. [AR 22 (citing 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, and
found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional
[M]edium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c)
except for no more than occasional climbing [of] ladders,
stooping, crouching, and crawling; and performing no more
than simple routine tasks with limited public contact, such
as no more than superficial, incidental contact.
[AR 23.] Applying this RFC, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had no past relevant work, but determined that
based on her age (46 years old), limited education, and
ability to communicate in English, she could perform
representative occupations such as hand packager (Dictionary
of Occupational Titles (“DOT”) 920.587-018),
laundry worker (DOT 361.685-018), and assembler (DOT
706.684-022) and, thus, is not disabled. [AR 26.]
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai
v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007).
Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (internal citation and quotations omitted);
see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074.
physicians rendered opinions about Plaintiff's mental
limitations. On April 13, 2013, Dr. Gary A. Bartell, M.D., a
consultative examiner retained by the state agency, examined
Plaintiff and prepared a report with his opinion.
[See AR 457-461.] On March 5, 2015, Dr. David
Samson, M.D., a treating physician, rendered his opinion. [AR
660-663.] Two, non-examining state agency consultants, Dr.
Heather Barrons, Psy.D., and Dr. Harvey Bilik, Psy.D., also
rendered opinions on June 7, 2013 and September 24, 2013,
respectively. [AR 63-90; 93-118.] Plaintiff argues that the
opinions of Dr. Bartell and Dr. Samson were improperly
rejected by the ALJ. [Pltf.'s Br. at 6.] The Court will
address each contention in turn.