United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. SCOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
2014, Steve S. (“Plaintiff”) filed an application
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”) alleging a
disability onset date of September 30, 2013, when he was 32
years old. Administrative Record (“AR”) 146, 151.
From 1999 to 2013, Plaintiff worked at a warehouse and
loading dock. AR 199, 248, 461. He was diagnosed with
congestive heart failure in 2008 and had implantable
cardioverter-defibrillator surgery in 2011, but he continued
working. AR 247, 430. He stopped working on September 13,
2013, because his employer's business closed. AR 182;
see also AR 249 (reporting “no symptoms”
to doctors in March 2013); AR 434 (stating in April 2013 that
his right shoulder pain started “a few years
ago”). Later in 2013, he pursued a workers'
compensation claim asserting that he suffered an industrial
injury in September 2012. AR 425, 429, 464. He claimed that
his warehouse work involved continuously reaching above
shoulder level, and he had injured his right shoulder through
repetitive use. AR 429, 431, 464.
August 24, 2016, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) conducted a hearing at which Plaintiff,
who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified, as
did a vocational expert (“VE”). AR 36-64. On
December 14, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying
Plaintiff's applications. AR 20-29. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff suffered from the severe, medically determinable
impairments of “right shoulder strain/sprain and
impingement syndrome with labral tear and paralabral cyst,
idiopathic cardiomyopathy with a history of congestive heart
failure and status post implantation of a cardioverter
defibrillator device, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and
obesity[.]” AR 22. Despite these impairments, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a limited range of
sedentary work activity with restrictions against reaching
above his shoulders, climbing, and working around unprotected
heavy machinery or unprotected heights. AR 24.
on this RFC and the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff could work as an addresser (Dictionary of
Occupation Titles [“DOT”] 209.587-010), ticket
checker (DOT 219.587-010), and lens inserter (DOT
713.687-026). AR 28. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not
disabled. AR 29.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court may review the Commissioner's decision to
deny benefits. The ALJ's findings and decision should be
upheld if they are free from legal error and are supported by
substantial evidence based on the record as a whole. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742,
746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such relevant
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. Comm'r of SSA, 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 that of the Commissioner.
Id. at 720-21.
decision of the ALJ will not be reversed for errors that are
harmless.” Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676,
679 (9th Cir. 2005). Generally, an error is harmless if it
either “occurred during a procedure or step the ALJ was
not required to perform” or if it “was
inconsequential to the ultimate nondisability
determination.” Stout v. Comm'r of SSA,
454 F.3d 1050, 1055 (9th Cir. 2006).
One: Whether the ALJ's determination of
Plaintiff's RFC is supported by substantial evidence.
Two: Whether the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff could
perform a significant number of jobs on a sustained basis is
supported by substantial evidence.
38, Joint Stipulation [“JS”] at 3.)
ISSUE ONE: The RFC Determination.
Using His Upper Extremities.
asserts that the ALJ did not consider (1) a medical
evaluation finding that he had diminished right hand grip
strength and right shoulder weakness, and (2) chiropractic
progress notes showing that his right upper extremity had a
limited range of motion. (JS at 6, citing AR 313, 332-59.)
According to Plaintiff, the ALJ should not merely have
restricted him against using his arms above ...