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Holloway v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 16, 2017

RENEE DENISE HOLLOWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          FREDERICK F. MUMM United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff brings this action seeking to overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration[1] denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Plaintiff and defendant consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pursuant to the March 8, 2016, Case Management Order, on September 20, 2016, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation (“JS”) detailing each party's arguments and authorities. The Court has reviewed the administrative record (the “AR”), filed on June 21, 2016, and the Joint Stipulation. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 31, 2012, plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income. (AR 101.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on review. (AR 101-46.) Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). (AR 164-70.) On March 24, 2014, ALJ Nancy M. Stewart held a hearing. (AR 27-56.) Plaintiff was present with counsel and testified at the hearing. (See generally id.)

         On September 9, 2014, the ALJ denied plaintiff benefits in a written decision. (AR 8-22.) Based on her review of the evidence, the ALJ determined that plaintiff possesses the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform “light work” subject to numerous accompanying limitations. (AR 16.) Ultimately, the ALJ found that plaintiff can perform work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy and, therefore, is not disabled. (AR 20-22.)

         On November 27, 2015, the Appeals Council denied review. (AR 1-3.) Thereafter, plaintiff initiated this action.

         CONTENTIONS

         Plaintiff raises two contentions in this action:

         1. Whether the ALJ improperly determined that plaintiff does not suffer from a severe mental impairment.

         2. Whether the ALJ failed to properly consider the opinions of Dr. Pechman.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration's decisions to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used proper legal standards. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, “a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusion.” Auckland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         If the evidence in the record can reasonably support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion, the Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Flaten v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995). However, even if substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's decision, the decision must be reversed if the proper legal ...


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