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Glaser v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 27, 2018

CANDICE GLASER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment.[1]Plaintiff's motion argues that the Administrative Law Judge's treatment of the medical opinion evidence and failure to develop the administrative record constituted error. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion is denied, defendant's cross-motion is granted, and the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) is affirmed.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In April of 2013, plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (“the Act”) and for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act. (Transcript (“Tr.”) at 17, 174-85.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially, (id. at 104-111), and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 17, 115-19, 121-25.)

         Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing which was held before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on April 7, 2015. (Id. at 34-62.) Plaintiff was represented by an attorney and testified at the administrative hearing. (Id. at 34-35.) At the April 7, 2015 administrative hearing plaintiff amended the alleged onset date to April 18, 2013, resulting in the dismissal of plaintiff's claim for DIB. (Id. at 17, 36-37.)

         In a decision issued on June 26, 2015, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 28.) The ALJ entered the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2005.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 18, 2013, the amended onset date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic back pain syndrome, displacement of thoracic or lumbar intervertebral disc without myelopathy, lumber spondylosis without myelopathy, and mild thoracic scoliosis (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant 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 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except no climbing ladders/ropes/scaffolds.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on May 5, 1983 and was 29 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 18, 2013, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

(Id. at 19-28.)

         On September 15, 2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's June 26, 2015 decision. (Id. at 1-4.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on September 28, 2016. (ECF No. 1.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “The district court reviews the Commissioner's final decision for substantial evidence, and the Commissioner's decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error.” Hill v. Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1158-59 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a ...


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