United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that Plaintiff's and Defendant's motions for
summary judgment are denied, and this matter is remanded for
further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.
filed a Complaint on September 11, 2017, seeking review of
the Commissioner's denial of disability benefits. The
parties filed a consent to proceed before a United States
Magistrate Judge on October 6, 2017.
filed a motion for summary judgment on February 26, 2018.
Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on March 28,
2018. The Court has taken both motions under submission
without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; “Order,
” filed September 12, 2017.
a former waitress, asserts disability since June 6, 2011,
based primarily on alleged neck pain (Administrative Record
(“A.R.”) 11-30, 66, 146-50, 1009).
Plaintiff's disability insurance status expired on
September 30, 2015 (A.R. 988).
a remand by this Court, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) conducted another hearing and examined
the record (A.R. 986-97; see A.R. 1-982, 998-1647).
The ALJ found Plaintiff has severe “degenerative disc
disease of the cervical spine with cervical spondylosis;
bursitis of the left shoulder; degenerative joint disease;
history of thyroid cancer; and hypothyroidism” (A.R.
988). The ALJ also found, however, that through September 30,
2015, Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to
perform medium work, including Plaintiff's past relevant
work as a waitress (A.R. 989, 996).
reaching this conclusion, the ALJ rejected the opinion of
Plaintiff's treating orthopedist, Dr. Neil Halbridge
(A.R. 995). Dr. Halbridge, who treated Plaintiff beginning in
2007 and continuing into 2015, consistently opined during
2012-15 that Plaintiff's severe neck problems limited
Plaintiff to less than a sedentary exertional capacity (A.R.
707, 901, 905, 909, 911, 914, 921, 925, 930, 935, 939, 942,
1522, 1528, 1534, 1540, 1546, 1552, 1558, 1564, 1570, 1576,
1582, 1588, 1594, 1600, 1606, 1612, 1618, 1624, 1632).
42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the
Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the
Administration's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d
1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499
F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(citation and quotations omitted); see Widmark v.
Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).
If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the
Commissioner's decision cannot be affirmed simply by
isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather,
a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both
evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the
opinion of a treating physician commands particular respect.
“As a general rule, more weight should be given to the
opinion of the treating source than to the opinion of doctors
who do not treat the claimant. . . .” Lester v.
Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995) (citations
omitted). A treating physician's conclusions “must
be given substantial weight.” Embrey v. Bowen,
849 F.2d 418, 422 (9th Cir. 1988); see Rodriguez v.
Bowen, 876 F.2d 759, 762 (9th Cir. 1989) (“the ALJ
must give sufficient weight to the subjective aspects of a
doctor's opinion. . . . This is especially true when the
opinion is that of a treating physician”) (citation
omitted); see also Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625,
631-33 (9th Cir. 2007) (discussing deference owed to treating
physicians' opinions). Even where the treating
physician's opinion is contradicted, as here,
“if the ALJ wishes to disregard the opinion of the
treating physician he . . . must make findings setting forth
specific, legitimate reasons for doing so that are based on
substantial evidence in the record.” Winans v.
Bowen, 853 F.2d 643, 647 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation,
quotations and brackets omitted); see Rodriguez v.
Bowen, 876 F.2d at 762 (“The ALJ may disregard the
treating physician's opinion, but only by setting forth
specific, legitimate reasons for doing ...