United States District Court, C.D. California
ALICIA S. E., Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. SCOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Alicia S. E. (“Plaintiff”) applied for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”), alleging disability
since December 9, 2015. Administrative Record
(“AR”) 241, 243.
February 20, 2018, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) conducted a hearing at which Plaintiff,
who was represented by an attorney, appeared and testified,
as did a vocational expert (“VE”). AR 128-49,
176-80. On February 26, 2018, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. AR 105-09. The Appeals Council denied review. AR
found Plaintiff not disabled at step one of the five-step
sequential evaluation process, because there was no
continuous 12-month period during which Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”).
who is prosecuting this appeal pro se, filed a
motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. 14.) Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant”)
opposed the motion. (Dkt. 15.) The Court conducted a hearing
on September 24, 2019, at which time Plaintiff lodged
additional medical evidence. (Dkt. 16.)
sole issue presented is whether substantial evidence supports
the ALJ's SGA-related findings at step one.
Standard of Review.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the
Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's
findings and decision should be upheld if they are free from
legal error and are supported by substantial evidence based
on the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007).
Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401;
Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th
Cir. 2007). It is more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance. Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035
(citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880,
882 (9th Cir. 2006)). To determine whether substantial
evidence supports a finding, the district court “must
review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both
the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts
from the Commissioner's conclusion.” Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998). “If the
evidence can reasonably support either affirming or
reversing, ” the reviewing court “may not
substitute its judgment” for that of the Commissioner.
Id. at 720-21.
The Five-Step Sequential ...