United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
SAGAR, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
reasons discussed below, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, pursuant
to Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this matter is
remanded for further administrative action consistent with
April 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review of
the denial of his applications for Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. (Docket Entry No.
1). On September 17, 2018, Defendant filed an Answer along
with the Administrative Record (“AR”). (Docket
Entry Nos. 20-21). On January 29, 2019, the parties filed a
Joint Stipulation (“Joint Stip.”) setting forth
their respective positions regarding Plaintiff's claims.
(Docket Entry No. 26). On November 13, 2019, the matter was
transferred to the undersigned magistrate judge. (Docket
Entry No. 28). The parties have consented to proceed before
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry
Court has taken this matter under submission without oral
argument. See C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15.
AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
20, 2014, Plaintiff, formerly employed as a security guard,
dealer service technician and machine operator (see AR
225-29), filed an application for Disability Insurance
Benefits, alleging an inability to work because of a
disabling condition since August 1, 2012. (See AR 23,
195-98). On June 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for
Supplemental Security Income, alleging a disability since
August 1, 2012. (See AR 23, 199-204).
October 18, 2016, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), Donald Colpitts, heard testimony from
Plaintiff (represented by counsel) and vocational expert
Robin Generaux. (See AR 38-55). On January 27, 2017, the ALJ
issued a decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (See
AR 23-31). Applying the five-step sequential process, the ALJ
found at step one that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since August 1, 2012. (AR 25).
At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the severe
impairments of cardiac dysrhythmia and shortness of breath.
(AR 25). At step three, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did
not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met
or equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. (AR
25-26). The ALJ then determined that Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work. (AR 26-29).
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was able to perform
past relevant work as a security guard and alternatively
determined, based on Plaintiff's age, education,
experience, and RFC, that there are jobs that exist in
significant No. in the national economy that Plaintiff can
perform. (AR 29-30). Accordingly, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act. (AR 30-31).
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
March 19, 2018. (See AR 3-6). Plaintiff now seeks judicial
review of the ALJ's decision, which stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner. See 42 U.S.C. §§
Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine if
it is free of legal error and supported by substantial
evidence. See Brewes v. Comm'r, 682 F.3d 1157,
1161 (9th Cir. 2012). “Substantial evidence” is
more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir.
2014). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a
finding, “a court must consider the record as a whole,
weighing both evidence that supports and evidence that
detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusion.”
Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033, 1035 (9th Cir.
2001)(internal quotation omitted). As a result, “[i]f
the evidence can support either affirming or reversing the
ALJ's conclusion, [a court] may not substitute [its]
judgment for that of the ALJ.” Robbins v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006).
alleges that (1) the ALJ erred in failing to provide clear
and convincing reasons for finding Plaintiff's testimony
not credible, and (2) the medical evidence submitted to the
Appeals Council undermines the ALJ's decision. (See Joint
Stip. at 4-10, 15-20).
consideration of the record as a whole, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's first claim of error warrants a remand for
further consideration. Since the Court is remanding the
matter based on Plaintiff's first claim of error, the
Court will not address Plaintiff's second claim of error.
ALJ Did Not Properly Assess Plaintiff's Testimony
asserts that the ALJ did not provide clear and convincing
reasons for rejecting Plaintiff's testimony about his
symptoms and limitations. (See Joint Stip. at 4-10, 15).
Defendant asserts that the ALJ provided valid reasons for
finding Plaintiff not fully credible. (See Joint Stip. at
as here, the ALJ finds that a claimant suffers from a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
could reasonably be expected to produce his or her alleged
symptoms, the ALJ must evaluate “the intensity and
persistence of those symptoms to determine the extent to
which the symptoms limit an individual's ability to
perform work-related activities for an adult . . . .”
Soc. Sec. Ruling (“SSR”) 16-3p, 2017 WL 5180304,
claimant initially must produce objective medical evidence
establishing a medical impairment reasonably likely to be the
cause of the subjective symptoms. Smolen v. Chater,80 F.3d 1273, 1281 (9th Cir. 1996); Bunnell v.
Sullivan,947 F.2d 341, 345 (9th Cir. 1991). Once a
claimant produces objective medical evidence of an underlying
impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce the
pain or other symptoms alleged, and there is no evidence of
malingering, the ALJ may reject the claimant's testimony
regarding the severity of his or her pain and symptoms only
by articulating specific, clear and convincing reasons for
doing so. Brown-Hunter v. Colvin,798 F.3d 749, 755
(9th Cir. 2015)(citing Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504
F.3d 1028, 1036 (9th Cir. 2007)); see also Smolen, supra;
Robbins v. Social Sec. Admin,466 F.3d 880, 883 (9th
Cir. 2006); Reddick v. Chater,157 F.3d ...