United States District Court, E.D. California
F. BRENNAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his
application for a period of disability and Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act. The parties have filed cross-motions for
summary judgment. ECF Nos. 13 & 16. For the reasons
discussed below, the Commissioner’s motion is granted
and plaintiff’s motion is denied.
filed an application for a period of disability and DIB,
alleging that he had been disabled since April 14, 2012.
Administrative Record (“AR”) at 167. His
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Id. at 90-93, 96-100. A hearing was held before
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Carol L. Buck.
Id. at 33-63.
October 20, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding that
plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d)
of the Act. Id. at 18-26. The ALJ made the
following specific findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through September 30, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 14, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairment:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with spinal
stenosis and lumbar radiculopathy (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
* * *
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) specifically as follows: the claimant can
lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds
frequently; the claimant can stand and/or walk six hours in
an eight-hour workday and sit for six hours in an eight-hour
workday; the claimant can climb ramps and stairs, kneel,
crouch and crawl frequently; the claimant can climb ladders,
ropes and scaffolds and stoop occasionally; the claimant can
balance with no limitations and the claimant must avoid
exposure to vibrations.
* * *
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a produce clerk. This work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by the
claimant’s residual functional capacity (20 CFR
* * *
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from April 14, 2012, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
Id. at 20-27.
request for Appeals Council review was denied on November 21,
2017, leaving the ALJ’s decision as the final decision
of the Commissioner. Id. at 1-3.
Commissioner’s decision that a claimant is not disabled
will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by
substantial evidence in the record and the proper legal
standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm’r of the
Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000);
Morgan v. Comm’r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169
F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999); Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999).
findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, are conclusive. See Miller v.
Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial
evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance. Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521
(9th Cir. 1996). “‘It means such evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.’” Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v.
N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)).
ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving
ambiguities.” Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d
1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “Where
the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational
interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ’s
decision, the ALJ’s conclusion must be upheld.”
Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir.
offers five arguments as to how the ALJ erred. First, he
claims that the ALJ failed to consider and assess various
documented medical conditions at step two. Second, he claims
the ALJ erred in failing to explicitly weigh the combined
impacts of all his impairments at step three. Third, he
claims that the ALJ made multiple errors in weighing medical
opinions of both Dr. Hanley, plaintiff’s chiropractor,
and the state agency physicians. Fourth, he claims that the
ALJ failed to provide adequate reasons for disregarding his
testimony regarding his pain and ...