United States District Court, E.D. California
CAROLYN K. DELANEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying an
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act (“Act”). The parties have consented to
Magistrate Judge jurisdiction to conduct all proceedings in
the case, including the entry of final judgment. For the
reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's
motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner's
cross-motion for summary judgment.
born in 1973, applied on August 26, 2014 for disability
insurance benefits, alleging disability beginning January 2,
2012. Administrative Transcript (“AT”) 15, 54-55.
Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work due to
seizures, multiple sclerosis, migraines, and
depression. AT 54. In a decision dated February 1, 2017, the
ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled. AT 15-27. The ALJ
made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 2, 2012, the application date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches, and mood disorder.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work, except that
she is never able to climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She
is able to frequently balance and occasionally stoop, kneel,
crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs. She must avoid
concentrated exposure to hazards, defined as operational
control of dangerous, moving machinery and unprotected
heights. The claimant is limited to performing simple,
routine, and repetitive tasks. She is limited to occasional
face to face interaction with the public.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on XX/XX/1973, and was 38 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the
alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has at least a high-school education and is
able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case
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
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.
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from January 2, 2012 through the
date of this decision.
argues that the ALJ committed the following errors in finding
plaintiff not disabled: (1) the ALJ improperly discounted the
opinion of treating neurologist Dr. Dengel; (2) the RFC
failed to account for plaintiff's moderate limitations in
concentration, persistence, and pace; and (3) the ALJ's
improperly discounted plaintiff's credibility.
court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine
whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the
record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance.
Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir.
2003) (citation omitted). It means “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d
625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart,
400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). “The ALJ is
responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts
in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.”
Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir.
2001) (citations omitted). “The court will uphold the
ALJ's conclusion when the evidence is susceptible to more
than one rational interpretation.” Tommasetti v.
Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008).
record as a whole must be considered, Howard v.
Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986), and both
the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts
from the ALJ's conclusion weighed. See Jones v.
Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court
may not affirm the ALJ's decision simply by isolating a
specific quantum of supporting evidence. Id.;
see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th
Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the
administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence
supporting a finding of either disability or nondisability,
the finding of the ALJ is conclusive, see Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987), and may
be set aside only if an improper legal standard was applied
in weighing the evidence. See Burkhart v. Bowen, 856
F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988).
asserts that the ALJ improperly discounted the opinions of
neurologist Dr. Michael Karsten Dengel, plaintiff's
primary treating doctor for multiple sclerosis (MS).
weight given to medical opinions depends in part on whether
they are proffered by treating, examining, or non-examining
professionals. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830
(9th Cir. 1995). Ordinarily, more weight is given to the
opinion of a treating professional, who has a greater
opportunity to know and observe ...