United States District Court, C.D. California
OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE SHASHI H. KEWALRAMANI JUDGE
Robert Anthony Mugica (“Plaintiff”) seeks
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner” or the “Agency”)
denying his application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), under Title II of the Social Security
Act (the “Act”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act. This Court
has jurisdiction, under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
1383(c)(3), and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge. Because the
Commissioner's decision is based on proper legal
standards and is supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED and the case is
applied for DIB on August 13, 2014, and SSI on August 15,
2014, alleging disability beginning on February 6, 2014.
Transcript (“Tr.”) 277-87.Following a denial
of benefits, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) and, on
September 27, 2016, an ALJ determined Plaintiff was not
disabled. Tr. 20-29. Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals
Council, however, review was denied, on December 7, 2016. Tr.
1-6. This appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing court shall affirm the Commissioner's decision
if the decision is based on correct legal standards and the
legal findings are supported by substantial evidence in the
record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r
Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004).
Substantial evidence is “more than a mere scintilla. It
means 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 internal quotation omitted). In reviewing the
Commissioner's alleged errors, this Court must weigh
“both the evidence that supports and detracts from the
[Commissioner's] conclusions.” Martinez v.
Heckler, 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986).
evidence reasonably supports either confirming or reversing
the ALJ's decision, [the Court] may not substitute [its]
judgment for that of the ALJ.'” Ghanim v.
Colvin, 763 F.3d 1154, 1163 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Batson, 359 F.3d at 1196)); Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 959 (9th Cir. 2002) (“If
the ALJ's credibility finding is supported by substantial
evidence in the record, [the Court] may not engage in
second-guessing.” (internal citation omitted)). A
reviewing court, however, “cannot affirm the decision
of an agency on a ground that the agency did not invoke in
making its decision.” Stout v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 454 F.3d 1050, 1054 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation
omitted). Finally, a court may not reverse an ALJ's
decision if the error is harmless. Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (citation
omitted). “[T]he burden of showing that an error is
harmful normally falls upon the party attacking the
agency's determination.” Shinseki v.
Sanders, 556 U.S. 396, 409 (2009).
A. Establishing Disability Under The
establish whether a claimant is disabled under the Act, it
must be shown that:
(a) the claimant suffers from a medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result
in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than twelve months; and
(b) the impairment renders the claimant incapable of
performing the work that the claimant previously performed
and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful
employment that exists in the national economy.
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir.
1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)). “If a
claimant meets both requirements, he or she is
employs a five-step sequential evaluation process to
determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning
of the Act. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140
(1987); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Each step is potentially
dispositive and “if a claimant is found to be
‘disabled' or ‘not-disabled' at any step
in the sequence, there is no need to consider subsequent
steps.” Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520. The claimant carries the burden of proof at
steps one through four, and the Commissioner carries the
burden of proof at step five. Tackett, 180 F.3d at
five steps are:
Step 1. Is the claimant presently working in a substantially
gainful activity [(“SGA”)]? If so, then the
claimant is “not disabled” within the meaning of
the  Act and is not entitled to [DIB]. If the claimant is
not working in a [SGA], then the claimant's case cannot
be resolved at step one and the evaluation proceeds to step
two. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b).
Step 2. Is the claimant's impairment severe? If not, then
the claimant is “not disabled” and is not
entitled to [DIB]. If the claimant's impairment is
severe, then the claimant's case cannot be resolved at
step two and the evaluation proceeds to step three.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c).
Step 3. Does the impairment “meet or equal” one
of a list of specific impairments described in the
regulations? If so, the claimant is “disabled”
and therefore entitled to [DIB]. If the claimant's
impairment neither meets nor equals one of the impairments
listed in the regulations, then the claimant's case
cannot be resolved at step three and the evaluation proceeds
to step four. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d).
Step 4. Is the claimant able to do any work that he or she
has done in the past? If so, then the claimant is “not
disabled” and is not entitled to [DIB or SSI]. If the
claimant cannot do any work he or she did in the past, then
the claimant's case cannot be resolved at step four and