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Delatorre v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 27, 2018

EUSTOILIA DELATORRE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ALKA SAGAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         PROCEEDINGS

         On April 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review of the denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income. (Docket Entry No. 1). The parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry Nos. 11-12). On September 19, 2017, Defendant filed an Answer along with the Administrative Record (“AR”). (Docket Entry Nos. 15-16). The parties filed a Joint Stipulation (“Joint Stip.”) on February 8, 2018, setting forth their respective positions regarding Plaintiff's claims. (Docket Entry No. 21).

         The Court has taken this matter under submission without oral argument. See C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15.

         BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         On April 17, 2013, Plaintiff, formerly employed as a housekeeper (see AR 73-76, 246), filed an application for Supplemental Security Income, alleging an inability to work because of disabling condition since July 20, 2010. (See AR 51, 191-218). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application initially on July 12, 2013 and on reconsideration on January 29, 2014 (see AR 102, 129-34).

         On July 16, 2015, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Andrew Verne, heard testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel and assisted by a Spanish language interpreter, and vocational expert Joseph Henry Torres. (See AR 67-90). On October 21, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's application. (See AR 51-59). After determining that Plaintiff had severe impairments -- “C4-C5 disc protraction; and status post right knee arthroplasty” (AR 53)[1] -- but did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments (AR 55), the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)[2] to perform medium work[3] with the following limitations: lifting and/or carrying 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; standing and walking for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; sitting for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; climbing ramps and/or stairs, ladders, ropes or scaffolds occasionally; and stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling occasionally. (AR 55-58). The ALJ then determined that Plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as a day worker as actually and generally performed (AR 58-59), and was therefore not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 59).

         The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on February 22, 2016. (See AR 1-4, 40). Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the ALJ's decision which stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if it is free of legal error and supported by substantial evidence. See Brewes v. Comm'r, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012). “Substantial evidence” is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014). 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.” Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation omitted). As a result, “[i]f the evidence can support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion, [a court] may not substitute [its] judgment for that of the ALJ.” Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006).

         PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTION

         Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ erred in finding that Plaintiff had the RFC to do medium work after February 2014. (See Joint Stip. at 4-9, 13-16).

         DISCUSSION

         After consideration of the record as a whole, the Court finds that the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial ...


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