United States District Court, C.D. California
ANA M. M., Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
CHARLES F. EICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed a Complaint on March 27, 2019, seeking review of the
Commissioner's denial of disability benefits. On May 17,
2019, the parties filed a consent to proceed before a United
States Magistrate Judge. On November 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed
a motion for summary judgment. On December 2, 2019, Defendant
filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court has taken the
motions under submission without oral argument. See
L.R. 7-15; “Order, ” filed March 29, 2019.
asserted disability since December 1, 2011, based primarily
on alleged depression and anxiety (Administrative Record
(“A.R.”) 276-84, 310). After the Administration
found Plaintiff not disabled, she filed a prior action in
this Court. See [M.] v. Colvin, ED CV 16-2614-E.
This prior action resulted in a stipulated remand for further
administrative proceedings (A.R. 32-45, 1430-56). These
further proceedings sought to resolve issues relating to: (1)
new mental heath treatment notes; (2) whether Plaintiff's
mental impairments met or equaled a listed impairment; (3)
further evaluation of an examining psychologist's
opinion; and (4) potential conflicts between the testimony of
a vocational expert and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
remand, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
reviewed the updated record, held another evidentiary
hearing, and issued a partially favorable decision (A.R.
1358-1400). The ALJ found Plaintiff disabled from December 1,
2011 through October 27, 2016, due to severe depression and
personality disorder (A.R. 1358-76). However, the ALJ also
found that Plaintiff's condition materially improved as
of October 28, 2016, such that Plaintiff was not disabled
from October 28, 2016 through the date of the ALJ's
decision (A.R. 1370-76 (adopting the testimony of the medical
expert and the testimony of the vocational expert at A.R.
prior administrative hearings, Plaintiff had testified
vaguely that she felt “pain in my body”
“from trying to physically do something” (A.R.
54, 59-60, 90, 1470-71). According to Plaintiff, her pain was
in “my lower back and my head and like just my entire
body” (A.R. 60). Plaintiff did not testify at the most
recent administrative hearing, although Plaintiff was
personally present at the hearing (A.R. 1384-1400). At the
close of the most recent hearing, Plaintiff's counsel
requested a consultative physical examination to evaluate
alleged fibromyalgia (A.R. 1397). The ALJ denied the request,
stating that fibromyalgia was “not specified in the
records enough that it's going to cause any 
limitations” (A.R. 1398). The ALJ added that
Plaintiff's counsel could send Plaintiff out for an
examination at Plaintiff's expense, if counsel believed
an examination was necessary (A.R. 1398). Evidently, no such
finding Plaintiff not disabled beginning October 28, 2016,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's newly-alleged
medically determinable impairment of fibromyalgia was
non-severe (i.e., the impairment does not
significantly limit Plaintiff's ability to perform work
activities). The ALJ reasoned:
the record suggests mild or no findings related to
fibromyalgia, such as issues with heightened pain, pressure,
memory problems, numbness, bladder problems, psychological
stress, fatigue, sleep disturbance, tactile pressure, nerve
pain, muscle twitching or palpitations. Furthermore, although
the  record mentions fibromyalgia, it is not diagnosed nor
documented as required by rheumatology society [sic].
(A.R. 1364). Plaintiff now contends that the ALJ erred: (1)
in determining Plaintiff's alleged fibromyalgia to be
non-severe; and (2) in failing expressly to discuss
Plaintiff's alleged “chronic pain” in the
assessment of Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(Plaintiff's Motion, pp. 7-12).
42 U.S.C section 405(g), this Court reviews the
Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the
Administration's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d
1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499
F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(citation and quotations omitted); see Widmark v.
Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).
If the evidence can support either outcome, the court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. But the
Commissioner's decision cannot be affirmed simply by
isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Rather,
a court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both