United States District Court, S.D. California
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
JUDGE RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND MOTION TO REMAND
[ECF NOS. 11, 15]
MITCHELL D. DEMBIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Report and Recommendation is submitted to United States
District Judge William Q. Hayes pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 72.1(c) of the United States
District Court for the Southern District of California.
Cecilia M. (“Plaintiff”) filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of
the final administrative decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”).
(ECF No. 1 at 1-2). The final administrative decision of
the Commissioner denied Plaintiffs application for
Supplemental Security Income under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (“Title XVI”). (AR 37).
reasons set forth herein, the Court
RECOMMENDS Plaintiffs Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 11-1) be DENIED,
Defendant's Motion to Remand be DENIED,
and the Commissioner's decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled and denying Supplemental Security Income be
was born on October 27, 1964. (AR 219). At the time the
instant application was filed on November 29, 2012, Plaintiff
was 48 years-old, which categorized her as a younger person.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563, 416.963. Plaintiff
subsequently changed age categories to closely approaching
advanced age. 20 C.F.R. 416.963.
November 29, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed an
application for a period of Supplemental Security Income
under Title XVI. (AR 37). The application alleged a
disability beginning September 5, 2003, but Plaintiff amended
her alleged disability onset date to October 27, 2014 at the
administrative hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ"). (AR 37, 56, 219). After her application
was denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing before an ALJ. (AR 37).
An administrative hearing was held on March 17, 2016.
(Id.). Plaintiff appeared and was represented by
attorney John B. Martin. (AR 54). Testimony was taken from
Plaintiff and from impartial vocational expert
(“VE”) Kathleen Macy-Powers (AR 54, 306). On May
3, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled from October 27, 2014 through the date of the
decision and therefore denied Plaintiffs application for
supplemental security income. (AR 37-48).
13, 2016, Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council.
(AR 4). On August 21, 2018, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiffs request for review and declared the ALJ's
decision to be the Commissioner's final decision in
Plaintiffs case. (AR 1). This timely civil action followed.
16, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,
arguing the ALJ improperly considered the accommodations an
employer must make to allow for a dog to be present in the
workplace. (ECF No. 11-1). On August 15, 2019, Defendant
filed a motion to remand, contending that the ALJ improperly
included an ADA accommodation in assessing Plaintiffs
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) and that the
accommodation is not medically necessary. (ECF No. 15-1). In
opposition, Plaintiff avers that the RFC is correct and that
remand is only warranted if it is limited to re-evaluating
step five of the sequential evaluation process. (See
ECF No. 18). In reply, Defendant maintains that remand
without limitation is required. (ECF No. 20).
405(g) and 1383(c)(3) of the Social Security Act allow
unsuccessful applicants to seek judicial review of a final
agency decision of the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g), 1383(c)(3). The scope of judicial review is limited
in that a denial of benefits will not be disturbed if it is
supported by substantial evidence and contains no legal
error. Id.; see also Batson v. Comm'r of the
SSA, 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004).
evidence means “more than a mere scintilla but less
than a preponderance. . . .” Sandgathe v.
Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). “[I]t is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.
(quoting Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th
Cir. 1995)). The court must consider the record as a whole,
weighing both the evidence that supports and detracts from
the Commissioner's conclusions. Desrosiers v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573,
576 (9th Cir. 1988). If the evidence supports more than one
rational interpretation, the court must uphold the ALJ's
decision. Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193. When the
evidence is inconclusive, “‘questions of
credibility and resolution of conflicts in the testimony are
functions solely of the Secretary.'” Sample v.
Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir. 1982) (quoting
Waters v. Gardner, 452 F.2d 855, 858 n.7 (9th Cir.
a reviewing court finds that substantial evidence supports
the ALJ's conclusion, the court must set aside the
decision if the ALJ failed to apply the proper legal
standards in weighing the evidence and reaching his or her
decision. Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193. Section 405(g)
permits a court to enter a judgment affirming, modifying, or
reversing the Commissioner's decision. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). The reviewing court may also remand the matter to the
Social Security Administration for further proceedings.
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