Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Diaz v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 18, 2019

JOSE DIAZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and defendant’s cross-motion for summary judgment.[2] Plaintiff’s motion argues that the Administrative Law Judge erred by improperly rejecting witness testimony and by finding that plaintiff did not meet a Listing Impairment.

         For the reasons explained below, plaintiff’s motion is granted, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In January of 2015, plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (“the Act”) and for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act alleging disability beginning on January 1, 2014. (Transcript (“Tr.”) at 19, 221-22, 224-28.) Plaintiff’s alleged impairments included major depressive disorder with psychotic features and schizophrenia. (Id. at 253.) Plaintiff’s applications were denied initially, (id. at 123-27, 129-33), and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 138-42, 144-49.)

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing and a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on December 22, 2016. (Id. at 38-72.) Plaintiff was represented by an attorney and testified at the administrative hearing. (Id. at 38-40.) In a decision issued on April 7, 2017, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 32.) The ALJ entered the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2014, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: depression; ADHD; paranoid schizophrenia (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations: he can exercise only simple work-related judgments; he can handle no more than occasionally (sic) changes to the routine work setting; he can perform routine, repetitive working (sic) a stable environment; he cannot be expected to work as a member of a team, but is capable of being in the same work environment with coworkers; he can occasionally interact with coworkers and supervisors; he can have no interaction with the public; he cannot be expected to engage in independent planning and goal setting but can understand, remember and carry out fixed plans and goals when performing routine and repetitive work.
6. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born [in] 1992 and was 21 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).
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 (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 1, 2014, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

(Id. at 22-31.)

         On March 12, 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff’s request for review of the ALJ’s April 7, 2017 decision. (Id. at 1-5.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on May 15, 2018. (ECF. No. 1.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “The district court reviews the Commissioner’s final decision for substantial evidence, and the Commissioner’s decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error.” Hill v. Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1158-59 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Osenbrock v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2001); Sandgathe v. Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997).

         “[A] reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a ‘specific quantum of supporting evidence.’” Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989)). If, however, “the record considered as a whole can reasonably support either affirming or reversing the Commissioner’s decision, we must affirm.” McCartey v. Massanari, 298 F.3d 1072, 1075 (9th Cir. 2002).

         A five-step evaluation process is used to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; see also Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). The five-step process has been summarized as follows:

Step one: Is the claimant engaging in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not, proceed to step two.
Step two: Does the claimant have a “severe” impairment? If so, proceed to step three. If not, then a finding of not disabled is appropriate.
Step three: Does the claimant’s impairment or combination of impairments meet or equal an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R., Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1? If so, the claimant is automatically determined disabled. If not, proceed to step four.
Step four: Is the claimant capable of performing his past work? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step five.
Step five: Does the claimant have the residual functional capacity to perform any other work? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, the claimant is disabled.

Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 828 n.5 (9th Cir. 1995).

         The claimant bears the burden of proof in the first four steps of the sequential evaluation process. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n. 5 (1987). The Commissioner bears the burden if the sequential evaluation process proceeds to step ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.