United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ROZELLA A. OLIVER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sherl Ann Wilson (“Plaintiff”) challenges the
Commissioner's denial of her application for a period of
disability and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). For the reasons stated below, the
decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and REMANDED.
December 31, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI,
alleging disability beginning November 30, 2010.
(Administrative Record (“AR”) 147.) Her
application was denied initially on June 12, 2013, and upon
reconsideration on November 6, 2013. (AR 86, 101.) On May 15,
2015, Plaintiff filed a written request for hearing, and a
hearing was held on February 12, 2015. (AR 7, 31.)
Represented by counsel, Plaintiff appeared and testified,
along with a medical expert and an impartial vocational
expert. (AR 33-49.) On March 31, 2015, the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, pursuant to the Social Security Act,
since December 31, 2012. (AR 16-26.) The ALJ's decision
became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR 1-4.)
Plaintiff filed this action on December 5, 2016. (Dkt. No.
followed a five-step sequential evaluation process to assess
whether Plaintiff was disabled under the Social Security Act.
Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir.
1995). At step one, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since December 31, 2012, the application date. (AR 18.) At
step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has
the following severe impairments: attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive
disorder, anxiety, and substance abuse. (Id.) At
step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
“does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1.” (AR 20.)
proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
[P]erform a full range of work at all exertion levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: can understand
and remember tasks; can sustain concentration and
persistence; can socially interact with co-workers and
supervisors; and can adapt to workplace changes frequently
enough to perform unskilled, low stress jobs that require
simple instructions, but should avoid jobs requiring
interaction with the general public.
step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has
no past relevant work. (AR 25.) At step
five, “[c]onsidering the claimant's age,
education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
” the ALJ found that “there are jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that the
claimant can perform.” (Id.) Accordingly, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not been under a disability
since the application date. (AR 26.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. A court must
affirm an ALJ's findings of fact if they are supported by
substantial evidence, and if the proper legal standards were
applied. Mayes v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 458-59
(9th Cir. 2001). “‘Substantial evidence'
means more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
person might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d
1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). An ALJ can
satisfy the substantial evidence requirement “by
setting out a detailed and thorough summary of the facts and
conflicting clinical evidence, stating his interpretation
thereof, and making findings.” Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 725 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation
Commissioner's decision cannot be affirmed simply by
isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather,
a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both
evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the
Secretary's conclusion.” Aukland v.
Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
“‘Where evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, ' the ALJ's decision should
be upheld.” Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
528 F.3d 1194, 1198 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005)); see
Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882 (“If the evidence can
support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's
conclusion, we may not substitute our judgment for that of
the ALJ.”). The Court may review only “the
reasons provided by the ALJ in the disability determination
and may not affirm the ALJ on a ground upon which he did not
rely.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th
Cir. 2007) (citing Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d
871, 874 (9th Cir. 2003)).