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Ramirez v. Saul

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 25, 2019

TERESA RAMIREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          JOHN E. MCDERMOTT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         PROCEEDINGS

         On September 14, 2018, Teresa Ramirez (“Plaintiff” or “Claimant”) filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Dkt. 1.) The Commissioner filed an Answer on December 26, 2018. (Dkt. 14.) On March 28, 2019, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation (“JS”). (Dkt. 19.) The matter is now ready for decision.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed bef ore this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record (“AR”), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this action dismissed with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a 34 year-old female who applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits on October 1, 2014, alleging disability beginning January 1, 2008. (AR 15.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 1, 2014, the application date. (AR 17.) Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on June 17, 2015, and on reconsideration on October 22, 2015. (AR 15.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Josephine Arno on August 18, 2017, in Moreno Valley, California. (AR 15.) Plaintiff appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (AR 15.) Vocational expert (“VE”) Sonia L. Peterson also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 15.)

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on October 24, 2017. (AR 15-24.) The Appeals Council denied review on July 27, 2018. (AR 1-3.)

         DISPUTED ISSUES

         As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the following disputed issues as grounds for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ properly addressed the treating psychiatrist's opinion.
2. Whether the ALJ properly developed the record.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

         Substantial evidence means “‘more than a mere scintilla,' but less than a preponderance.” Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin.,466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). “However, 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 ...


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