United States District Court, E.D. California
DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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.Plaintiff’s motion argues that the
Administrative Law Judge improperly rejected medical opinion
reasons explained below, plaintiff’s motion is granted
in part, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) is reversed, and the matter is
remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.
October 7, 2014, 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 December 2,
2013. (Transcript (“Tr.”) at 24, 63.)
Plaintiff’s alleged impairments included “right
hand is useless due to gunshot, ” and damages to left
ankle tendons. (Id. at 63.) Plaintiff’s
applications were denied initially, (id. at 121-25),
and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 128-32.)
requested an administrative hearing and a hearing was held
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on
November 29, 2016. (Id. at 42-62.) Plaintiff was
represented by an attorney and testified at the
administrative hearing. (Id. at 42-44.) In a
decision issued on March 22, 2017, the ALJ found that
plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 36.) The ALJ
entered the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2016. (Exhibit 4D).
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since December 2, 2013, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
arthritis and ligament tears in left ankle; status post
gunshot wound to right hand (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except the claimant cannot climb ladders. The
claimant must avoid hazards, such as unprotected heights and
moving machinery. The claimant must avoid uneven terrain. He
cannot crawl. He can occasionally
push, pull, handle and finger with the dominant right upper
extremity. The claimant requires the use an (sic) assistive
device whenever standing or walking.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born [in] 1979 and was 34 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 a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
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 December 2, 2013, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and
(Id. at 26-36.)
April 20, 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff’s
request for review of the ALJ’s March 22, 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 23, 2018. (ECF. No. 1.)
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).
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.
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