United States District Court, E.D. California
AMENDED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
who is proceeding with retained counsel, brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Pending
before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment (Doc. 14) and defendant's cross-motion for
summary judgment (Doc. 21).
matter is before the undersigned following the District
Judge's September 29, 2017, order. In findings and
recommendations issued on September 1, 2017, the court
concluded that summary judgment in favor of plaintiff was
appropriate and that the case should be remanded to the
agency for further proceedings. Specifically, the court found
that: (1) the Administrative Law Judge failed to provide
reasons for rejecting Dr. Orman's opinion that are
supported by substantial evidence; (2) the Administrative Law
Judge's assessment of plaintiff's migraine headaches
was supported by substantial evidence and proper legal
analysis; and (3) the Administrative Law Judge's
assessment of plaintiff's credibility was supported by
substantial evidence and proper legal analysis. No party
filed objections and the findings and recommendations were
submitted to the District Judge for review. The District
Judge concluded that she was unable “to determine if
the proposed determination is correct as a matter of
law.” The District Judge did not specify which
“determination” - regarding evaluation of Dr.
Orman's opinion, evaluation of plaintiff's migraines,
or assessment of plaintiff's credibility - she was unable
applied for social security benefits on July 13, 2008. In the
application, plaintiff claims that disability began on May
15, 2007. Plaintiff's claim was initially denied.
Following denial of reconsideration, plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, which was held on April 21, 2010,
before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) William
C. Thompson, Jr. In a July 22, 2010, decision, the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff is not disabled. After the Appeals
Council declined review, plaintiff appealed to this court.
See Jannicelli v. Astrue, No. 2:12-CV-1678-CKD. The
court reversed and remanded for further consideration of the
opinions of plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Orman.
remand, a second hearing was held before ALJ G. Ross Wheatley
on July 15, 2014. In an August 8, 2014, decision, the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff is not disabled based on the
following relevant findings:
1. The claimant has the following severe impairment(s):
fibromyalgia; migraine headaches; left knee degenerative
joint disease, status post surgeries; depression; and
2. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals an impairment
listed in the regulations;
3. The claimant has the following residual functional
capacity: the claimant can perform light work; she can
lift/carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds
frequently she can sit for six hours and stand/walk for up to
three hours; she can occasionally bend, stoop, squat, and
kneel; she cannot crawl or climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; she cannot work around unprotected heights and
hazardous machinery; she can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs; she has no limitation to reaching or gross
manipulation; she is limited to simple work; and
4. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, residual functional capacity, and vocational
expert testimony, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that the claimant can
the Appeals Council declined further review on October 6,
2015, this second appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court reviews the Commissioner's final decision to
determine whether it is: (1) based on proper legal standards;
and (2) supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole. See Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097
(9th Cir. 1999). “Substantial evidence” is more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. See
Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521 (9th Cir. 1996). It
is “. . . such evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 402 (1971). The
record as a whole, including both the evidence that supports
and detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion, must be
considered and weighed. See Howard v. Heckler, 782
F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986); Jones v. Heckler,
760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court may not affirm
the Commissioner's decision simply by isolating a
specific quantum of supporting evidence. See Hammock v.
Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). If substantial
evidence supports the administrative findings, or if there is
conflicting evidence supporting a particular finding, the
finding of the Commissioner is conclusive. See Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987).
Therefore, where the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, one of which supports the
Commissioner's decision, the decision must be affirmed,
see Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
2002), and may be set aside only if an improper legal
standard was applied in weighing the evidence, see
Burkhart v. Bowen, 856 F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988).