United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
filed a complaint seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of
Social Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of
her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). The parties filed consents to proceed
before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts.
12, 13] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case
[Dkt. 21 (“Pl.'s Br.”) and Dkt. 25
(“Def.'s Br.”)]. The Court has taken the
parties' briefing under submission without oral argument.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that this
matter should be affirmed.
ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW
October 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and
SSI, alleging a disability onset date of April 1, 2010. [Dkt.
17, Administrative Record (“AR”) 17, 71-72.] The
Commissioner denied her claim for benefits on March 10, 2015.
[AR 168, 175.] On January 10, 2017, a hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) James D.
Goodman. [AR 56-84.] On June 27, 2017, the ALJ issued a
decision denying Plaintiff's request for benefits. [AR
17-31.] Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council,
which denied review on July 24, 2017. [AR 1-5.]
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(b)-(g)(1). At step one, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 1, 2010, the alleged onset date. [AR 20
(citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.971).] At step two, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe
impairments: obesity, osteoarthritis, and depression.
[Id. (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c)).] The ALJ
determined at step three that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments. [AR 21 (citing 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1; 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925, and
the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of
light work, except she can:
Stand and walk up to six hours, cumulatively, and sit up to
six hours, cumulatively, in an eight-hour work day; lift and
carry up to twenty pounds occasionally, ten pounds
frequently, occasionally climb, balance, bend, stoop, and
crawl, but never climb ropes, scaffolds, or ladders; more
than frequently perform complex technical work; and can
perform a full range of simple, repetitive work at least at
level seven reasoning. [AR 23.]
this RFC at step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had no
past relevant work. The ALJ, however, found at step five
that, considering Plaintiff's age, education, and RFC,
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff can perform, and thus she is
not disabled. [AR 30.]
objects to the ALJ's decision of non-disability on four
grounds: (1) that the ALJ erred by rejecting the examining
opinion given by Dr. Bernabe; (2) that the ALJ failed to
incorporate all of her rheumatologic manipulative limitations
found by Dr. Bernabe in the RFC finding; (3) that the ALJ
erred in evaluating her subjective symptom testimony; and (4)
that he erred in evaluating the testimony of her lay witness.
[Pl.'s Br. at Dkt. 21.] Defendant responds that the
ALJ's decision should be affirmed. [Dkt. 25.]
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 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) (internal citation and quotations omitted);
see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074. The Court will
uphold the Commissioner's decision when the evidence is
susceptible to more than one rational interpretation.
Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir.
2005). However, the Court may review only the reasons stated
by the ALJ in his decision “and may not affirm the ALJ
on a ground upon which he did not rely.” Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007).
The ALJ Did Not Err in Rejecting Dr. Bernabe's Examining
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in rejecting a portion of
Dr. Bernabe's examining opinion limiting Plaintiff's
manipulative activities such as handling, fingering, feeling
and reaching to an occasional basis. In response, Defendant
argues that ALJ properly weighed conflicting medical opinion
evidence and formulated an RFC best supported by the weight
of the record as a whole. Defendant further argues that the
ALJ provided specific and legitimate reasons explaining why
he discounted Dr. Bernabe's opinion-reasons that are
supported by substantial evidence in the record.