Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sanders v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 22, 2018

NATOSHA SANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER REVERSING COMMISSIONER

          JEAN ROSENBLUTH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff seeks review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her applications for Social Security disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income benefits (“SSI”). The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The matter is before the Court on the parties' Joint Stipulation, filed November 13, 2017, which the Court has taken under submission without oral argument. For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and this action is remanded for further proceedings.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born in 1975. (Administrative Record (“AR”) 54, 66, 157, 161.) She completed 12th grade (AR 188) and worked as a court clerk, an in-home caregiver, and a bookkeeper (AR 32, 177, 189).

         On November 5 and 19, 2013, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, respectively, alleging that she had been unable to work since March 6, 2013, because of lower-back pain, arthritis, depression, anxiety, and a spinal tear. (AR 54-55, 66-67, 157-66, 187.) After her applications were denied (AR 78-79, 82-85, 87-90), she requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (AR 92-94). A hearing was held on March 12, 2015, at which Plaintiff testified, as did a vocational expert and two medical experts. (See AR 29-53.) In a written decision issued April 23, 2015, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled. (AR 15-28.) Plaintiff sought Appeals Council review (AR 9-10), which was denied on November 15, 2016 (AR 1-6). This action followed.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's findings and decision should be upheld if they are free of legal error and supported by substantial evidence based on the record as a whole. See id.; Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). It is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance. Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035 (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, the reviewing court “must review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998). “If the evidence can reasonably support either affirming or reversing, ” the reviewing court “may not substitute its judgment” for the Commissioner's. Id. at 720-21.

         IV. THE EVALUATION OF DISABILITY

         People are “disabled” for purposes of receiving Social Security benefits if they are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity owing to a physical or mental impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); Drouin v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).

         A. The Five-Step Evaluation Process

         The ALJ follows a five-step evaluation process to assess whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4); Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir. 1995) (as amended Apr. 9, 1996). In the first step, the Commissioner must determine whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity; if so, the claimant is not disabled and the claim must be denied. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4) (i).

         If the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the second step requires the Commissioner to determine whether the claimant has a “severe” impairment or combination of impairments significantly limiting her ability to do basic work activities; if not, the claimant is not disabled and her claim must be denied. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii).

         If the claimant has a “severe” impairment or combination of impairments, the third step requires the Commissioner to determine whether the impairment or combination of impairments meets or equals an impairment in the Listing of Impairments set forth at 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1; if ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.