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Danielle H. v. Saul

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 30, 2019

DANIELLE H., [1] Plaintiff
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GAIL J. STANDISH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)[2] and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The parties filed consents to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts. 11, 12] and briefs addressing disputed issue in the case [Dkt. 19 (“Pltf.'s Br.”), Dkt. 22 (“Def.'s Br.”)]. The Court has taken the parties' briefing under submission without oral argument. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that this matter should be affirmed.

         II. ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW

         On July 3, 2012 Plaintiff filed an application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and, on July 29, 2014, she filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. [Dkt. 15, Administrative Record (“AR”) 221-229.] In both applications, Plaintiff stated that she became disabled and unable to work on May 22, 2014, due to a combination of physical and mental impairments.

         After being denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff timely filed a request for hearing (AR 104-115, 116-127), after which a hearing took place before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Mason D. Harrell, Jr. on March 1, 2017. [AR 73-103.]

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June 16, 2017 (AR 19-30), in which the ALJ found Plaintiff to have severe impairments consisting of osteoarthritis and mood disorder. [AR 22.] While the ALJ found that none of Plaintiff's impairments met or equaled any of the listed impairments (AR 22), he nevertheless found Plaintiff to have a limited light residual functional capacity, specifically finding she is capable of:

Lifting and/or carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can stand and/or walk for two hours of an eight-hour workday, fifteen minutes at a time. She requires use of a cane to walk but not to stand. She has no limitations as to sitting except she must be able to stand and stretch for one minute, each hour. She cannot use foot pedals on the left. She is capable of non-complex, routine, and repetitive tasks and occasional interactions with public, coworkers and supervisors.
[AR 24.]

         Applying this RFC, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had no past relevant work, but she could perform other work as an assembly person (Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”) 729.687-010), inspector (DOT 529.587-014), and office helper (DOT 239.567-010). Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act. [AR 30.]

         Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals Council denied, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. [AR 1-5.] This appeal followed.

         III. GOVERNING STANDARD

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 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) (internal citation and quotations omitted); see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074. The Court will uphold the Commissioner's decision when the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). However, the Court may review only the reasons stated by the ALJ in his decision “and may not affirm the ALJ on a ground upon which he did not rely.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007).

         IV. ...


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