United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY
BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Connie Raquenio (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial
review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”)
pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act. The matter
is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs,
which were submitted, without oral argument, to Magistrate
Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. Having considered the
parties' briefs, along with the entire record in this
case, the Court finds the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) to be supported by substantial
evidence in the record as a whole and based upon proper legal
standards. Accordingly, this Court affirms the agency's
determination to deny benefits.
time of her DIB application, Plaintiff was 56 years old with
four or more years of college experience. AR 159. Prior to
her alleged disability, Plaintiff worked as a disability
representative, office assistant, patient account
representative, and word processor. AR 159, 205-206.
Plaintiff alleges that she became unable to work on February
1, 2013 because of major depression, paranoia, anxiety,
fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease, cervical
radiculopathy, and temporomandibular joint disorder
(“TMJ”). AR 204. Plaintiff later returned to work
part time; she therefore alleges disability for a closed
period from February 1, 2013, until April 1, 2014. AR 39-40.
applied for benefits on August 5, 2013. AR 204. That
application was denied initially and on reconsideration. On
August 20, 2015, a hearing was held before ALJ Sharon L.
Madsen. AR 36. Plaintiff, along with her attorney, appeared
and testified. AR 36-64. The ALJ also heard testimony from
Judith Najarian, a vocational expert. AR 58-62.
decision dated September 18, 2015, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled because, despite some impairment,
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform medium work limited to simple, routine tasks with
occasional public contact. AR 21. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's
decision the Commissioner's final determination for
purposes of judicial review. AR 1-6. This appeal followed.
STANARD OF REVIEW
Scope of Review
has provided a limited scope of judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits under the Act.
In reviewing findings of fact with respect to such
determinations, this Court must determine whether the
decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence means
“more than a mere scintilla, ” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 402 (1971), but less than a
preponderance. Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d
1112, 1119, n. 10 (9th Cir. 1975). It is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Richardson, 402 U.S. at
401. The record as a whole must be considered, weighing both
the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts
from the Commission's conclusion. Jones v.
Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). In weighing
the evidence and making findings, the Commissioner must apply
the proper legal standards. E.g., Burkhart v. Bowen,
856 F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988). This Court must uphold
the Commissioner's determination that the claimant is not
disabled if the Commissioner applied the proper legal
standards, and if the Commissioner's findings are
supported by substantial evidence. See Sanchez v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Serv., 812 F.2d 509, 510
(9th Cir. 1987).
order to qualify for benefits, a claimant must establish that
he or she is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity
due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(A). A claimant must show that he or she has a
physical or mental impairment of such severity that he or she
is not only unable to do his or her previous work, but
cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience,
engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which
exists in the national economy. Quang Van Han v.
Bowen, 882 F.2d 1453, 1456 (9th Cir. 1989). The burden
is on the claimant to establish disability. Terry v.
Sullivan, 903 F.2d 1273, 1275 (9th Cir. 1990).
sole issue, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in finding
her testimony regarding the extent of her pain and symptoms