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Anju M. v. Saul

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 6, 2019

ANJU M., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN E. SCOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Anju M. (“Plaintiff”) applied for Title II disability benefits in January 2015 alleging disability commencing on May 8, 2014. Administrative Record (“AR”) 169. On September 28, 2017, 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 38-54. On December 22, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. AR 18-37. The ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. AR 23. The ALJ concluded that despite these impairments, Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at all exertional levels with the following non-exertional limitations:

[S]he would be most successful in an occupation without high production quotas and not in a fast-paced work environment, and where she would perform routine and repetitive tasks, of the complexity no higher than that of SVP 3 work; she can be around people, with only superficial interactions.

AR 27.

         Based on this RFC and the VE's testimony, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work as a customer service representative, but could perform the jobs of packer (Dictionary of Occupational Titles [“DOT”] 579.685-038), checker/weigher (DOT 369.687-014), and cleaner (DOT 381.687-018) (collectively, the “Alternative Jobs”). AR 32. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 33.

         II.

         ISSUES PRESENTED

Issue One: “Whether the ALJ expressed a residual functional capacity.”
Issue Two: Whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff could perform the Alternative Jobs.

(Dkt. 19, Joint Stipulation [“JS”] at 4.)

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 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 ...


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