United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
CAROLYN K. DELANEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying an
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act (“Act”). For the reasons discussed below, the
undersigned recommends that plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment be denied and the Commissioner's
cross-motion for summary judgment be granted.
born in 1966, applied on November 4, 2013 for SSI and
disability insurance benefits, alleging disability beginning
August 29, 2013. Administrative Transcript (“AT”)
18, 28. Plaintiff alleged he was unable to work due to
depression, schizophrenia, hearing voices, back injury, and
right knee injury. AT 93. In a decision dated September 21,
2016, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not
disabled. AT 18-30. The ALJ made the following
findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 29, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
thoracic spine compression fracture; bilateral sacral joint
degenerative changes; meniscal tear of the right knee, status
post arthroscopy and meniscectomy; history of lumbar fusion
surgery; depression; and a pain disorder.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work except he can
occasionally climb, kneel, crouch, and crawl; can frequently
balance and stoop; must avoid concentrated exposure to
hazards such as dangerous machinery, unprotected heights, and
uneven surfaces; and can perform simple tasks in a setting
with few workplace changes and no more than occasional
interaction with the general public and coworkers.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant
7. The claimant was born on XX/XX/1966 and was 47 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49 on the
alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently
changed age category to closely approaching advanced age.
8. The claimant has at least a high-school education and is
able to communicate in English.
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.
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.
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from August 29, 2013 through the
date of this decision.
argues that the ALJ committed the following errors in finding
plaintiff not disabled: (1) the ALJ improperly rejected the
treating doctor's opinion; (2) the ALJ improperly
rejected plaintiff's testimony; and (3) the ALJ's
step five finding is not supported by substantial evidence.
court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine
whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the
record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance.
Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir.
2003) (citation omitted). It means “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d
625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart,
400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). “The 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). “The court will uphold the
ALJ's conclusion when the evidence is susceptible to more
than one rational interpretation.” Tommasetti v.
Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008).
record as a whole must be considered, Howard v.
Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986), and both
the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts
from the ALJ's conclusion weighed. See Jones v.
Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court
may not affirm the ALJ's decision simply by isolating a
specific quantum of supporting evidence. Id.;
see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th
Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the
administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence
supporting a finding of either disability or nondisability,
the finding of the ALJ is conclusive, see Sprague v.
Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987), and may
be set aside only if an improper legal standard was applied
in weighing the evidence. See Burkhart v. Bowen, 856
F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988).