United States District Court, C.D. California
SHEROD O. J., Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed a complaint on November 9, 2018, seeking review of the
Commissioner's denial of disability benefits. The parties
filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate
Judge on January 29, 2019. Plaintiff filed a motion for
summary judgment on May 10, 2019. Defendant filed a motion
for summary judgment on June 10, 2019. The Court has taken
the motions under submission without oral argument.
See L.R. 7-15; “Order, ” filed November
asserted disability since June 11, 2015, based on alleged:
bipolar disorder with auditory hallucinations; a history of
congestive heart failure with non-ischemic cardiomyopathy;
glaucoma; and lower back pain (Administrative Record
(“A.R.”) 351, 449, 477, 484, 511). An
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) reviewed the
record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (A.R. 27-38, 347-68, 382-874). The ALJ found that Plaintiff
suffers from severe non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and a history
of congestive heart failure which restrict Plaintiff to a
limited range of light work (A.R. 31, 34). The ALJ relied on
a vocational expert's testimony to find Plaintiff capable
of performing jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy (A.R. 37 (adopting vocational expert's
testimony at A.R. 365-66)). The ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled from June 11, 2015 through November 17, 2017 - the
date of the ALJ's decision (A.R. 37-38).
then submitted to the Appeals Council additional medical
records regarding treatment during the alleged disability
period. See A.R. 2; see also A.R. 42-312
(Kedren Community Health Center and Harbor-UCLA records). The
Appeals Council declined to “exhibit” these
records, finding no reasonable probability that the evidence
would change the outcome of the decision (A.R. 2). The
Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 1-4).
stipulates to the ALJ's summary and assessment of the
effects of his cardiovascular disease. However, Plaintiff
contends that the ALJ erred by finding Plaintiff's
alleged mental impairments not severe and by adopting a
mental residual functional capacity supposedly not supported
by substantial evidence. See Plaintiff's Motion,
pp. 4, 8-10.
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); see also Brewes v.
Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012).
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
also Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir.
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 [administrative] conclusion.
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir.
1999) (citations and quotations omitted).
as here, the Appeals Council “considers new evidence in
deciding whether to review a decision of the ALJ, that
evidence becomes part of the administrative record, which the
district court must consider when reviewing the
Commissioner's final decision for substantial
evidence.” Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d at
1163. “[A]s a practical matter, the final decision of
the Commissioner includes the Appeals Council's denial of
review, and the additional evidence considered by that body
is evidence upon which the findings and decision complained