United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
SAGAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
reasons discussed below, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, pursuant
to Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this matter is
remanded for further administrative action consistent with
September 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review
of the Commissioner's denial of Plaintiff's
applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). (Dkt. No. 1). On March 4, 2019,
Defendant filed an Answer and the Administrative Record
(“AR”). (Dkt. Nos. 16-17). On June 3, 2019, the
parties filed a joint stipulation setting forth their
respective positions regarding Plaintiff's claims.
(“Joint Stip., ” Dkt. No. 18). The parties have
consented to proceed before the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 22-23).
AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
April 1, 2015, Plaintiff, formerly employed as a
caregiver/companion and a psychiatric technician,
constructively filed applications for DIB and SSI alleging a
disability onset date of May 1, 2007. (AR 202-18, 267).
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially on August
27, 2015, (AR 118, 145-49), and on reconsideration on
December 8, 2015. (AR 141-42, 151-55).
15, 2017, Administrative Law Judge Henry Koltys
(“ALJ”) heard testimony from Plaintiff, who was
represented by counsel, and vocational expert
(“VE”) Sharon Spaventa. (See AR 73-100). At the
hearing, upon the ALJ's suggestion, Plaintiff amended his
alleged onset date to “October 2014.” (AR 79-80).
On October 3, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision acknowledging
Plaintiff's amended onset date as October 1, 2014, and
denying Plaintiff's application upon concluding that
Plaintiff has not been disabled since that date. (See AR
applied the requisite five-step process to evaluate
Plaintiff's case. At step one, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since October 1, 2014, the amended alleged onset date. (AR
54). At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's diabetes
mellitus, hypertension, and history of prostate cancer are
severe impairments. (Id.). At step three, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or
equal a listing found in 20 C.F.R Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. (AR 55).
before proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
has the Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”) to perform “medium work, ”
except that he can “frequently climb ramps/stairs;
frequently crawl [or] kneel; [and] occasionally stoop,
crouch, climb ladders, ropes, [and] scaffolds.”
(Id.). At step four, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff is capable of performing his past relevant work as
a companion and psychiatric technician. (AR 57). Accordingly,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled.
the ALJ's decision, Plaintiff submitted a request for
review to the Appeals Council (AR 198-200), along with a
supporting brief from his attorney (AR 337), and additional
medical evidence (AR 25-47, 62-63). On July 12, 2018, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request to review the
ALJ's decision. (See AR 1-4). Plaintiff now seeks
judicial review of the ALJ's decision, which stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner. See 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c).
Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine
if: (1) the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used proper
legal standards. 42 U.S.C § 405(g); see Carmickle v.
Comm'r, 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008);
Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir.
2007). “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla,
but less than a preponderance.” Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing
Jamerson v. Chater, 112 F.3d 1064, 1066 (9th Cir.
1997)). It is relevant evidence “which a reasonable
person might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074;
Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir.
1996). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a
finding, “a court must ‘consider the record as a
whole, weighing both evidence that supports and evidence that
detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusion.'
” Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d
1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted); see
Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir.
2006) (inferences “reasonably drawn from the
record” can constitute substantial evidence).
Court “may not affirm [the Commissioner's] decision
simply by isolating a specific quantum of support evidence,
but must also consider evidence that detracts from [the
Commissioner's] conclusion.” Ray v. Bowen,
813 F.2d 914, 915 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). However, the Court cannot disturb
findings supported by substantial evidence, even though there
may exist other evidence supporting the plaintiff's
claim. See Torske v. Richardson, 484 F.2d
59, 60 (9th Cir. 1973). “If the evidence can reasonably
support either affirming or reversing the
[Commissioner's] conclusion, [a] court may not substitute
its judgment for that of the [Commissioner].”
Reddick, 157 F.3d 715, 720-21 (9th Cir. 1998)
alleges that (1) the ALJ erred in evaluating the medical
evidence; (2) the ALJ erred in assessing Plaintiff's
subjective symptoms; and (3) the ALJ's decision is not
supported by substantial evidence in light of additional