United States District Court, C.D. California
PATRICIA A. F.,  Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING
DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER
ALEXANDER F. MACKINNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
seeks review of the Commissioner's final decision denying
her application for Social Security disability insurance
benefits. In accordance with the Court's case management
order, the parties have filed briefs addressing the merits of
the disputed issues. This matter is now ready for decision.
filed an application for Social Security disability insurance
benefits on November 17, 2014, claiming a disability onset
date of October 29, 2014. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) 125, 209.) Her claim was initially denied
on April 29, 2015 and upon reconsideration. (AR 141-145.)
Plaintiff testified at a hearing held on September 5, 2017.
(AR 44-104.) Also testifying was a vocational expert
(“VE”). (AR 44-104.) On February 28, 2018,
Plaintiff was notified of an unfavorable decision by the ALJ.
(AR 14-33.) The Appeals Council denied review, making the
ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (AR
Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the medical evidence of
Whether the ALJ properly evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied.
See Treichler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 775
F.3d 1090, 1098 (9th Cir. 2014). Substantial evidence means
“more than a mere scintilla” but less than a
preponderance. See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971); Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d
1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). The Court reviews the record as a
whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's
conclusion. Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035. Where
evidence is susceptible of more than one rational
interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be
upheld. See Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th
Cir. 2007); Batson v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1196 (9th Cir. 2004) (“When
evidence reasonably supports either confirming or reversing
the ALJ's decision, [the court] may not substitute [its]
judgment for that of the ALJ.”).
contends that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate her
credibility and subjective complaints.
as here, a claimant has presented evidence of an underlying
impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce pain
or other symptoms, the ALJ must “evaluate the intensity
and persistence of [the] individual's symptoms . . . and
determine the extent to which [those] symptoms limit his . .
. ability to perform work-related activities . . . .”
SSR 16-3p, 2016 WL 1119029, at *4. Absent a finding that the
claimant is malingering, an ALJ must provide specific, clear
and convincing reasons before rejecting a claimant's
testimony about the severity of his symptoms. Trevizo v.
Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 678 (9th Cir. 2017) (citing
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1014-1015 (9th
findings [regarding a claimant's credibility] are
insufficient; rather, the ALJ must identify what testimony is
not credible and what evidence undermines the claimant's
complaints.” Burrell v. Colvin, 775 F.3d 1133,
1138 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Lester v. Chater, 81
F.3d 821, 834 (9th Cir. 1995)). The ALJ's findings
“must be sufficiently specific to allow a reviewing
court to conclude the adjudicator rejected the claimant's
testimony on permissible grounds and did not arbitrarily
discredit a claimant's testimony regarding pain.”
Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806 F.3d 487, 493 (9th Cir.
2015) (quoting Bunnell v. Sullivan, 947 F.2d 341,
345-346 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc)). Factors an ALJ may
consider when making such a determination include the
objective medical evidence, the claimant's treatment
history, the ...