United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
(“Plaintiff”) appeals from Social Security
Commissioner's final decision rejecting her application
for Social Security disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed and this case is
dismissed with prejudice.
filed an application for DIB on March 24, 2017, alleging
disability beginning on December 1, 2016. See
Administrative Record (“AR”) 15. After a hearing
in August 2018, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the
severe impairments of degenerative disc disease of the
cervical spine status post cervical fusion surgery,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, mild
degenerative joint disease of the bilateral hips, history of
thyroid cancer, major depressive disorder, and cannabis
abuse. See AR 17. The ALJ also concluded that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed
impairments. See id. The ALJ then determined that
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) limited her to light work with certain
additional limitations. See AR 19. The ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff was not disabled because although she could
not return to her past work, there was work available in the
national economy which she could do despite her limitations.
See AR 24-25. This action followed. See
parties dispute whether the ALJ properly considered
Plaintiff's subjective symptom testimony. See
Dkt. 18, Joint Submission (“JS”) at 3.
Court engages in a two-step analysis to review the ALJ's
evaluation of Plaintiff's symptom testimony. See
Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 678 (9th Cir. 2017).
First, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has
presented objective medical evidence of an underlying
impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce the
symptoms alleged. See id. If the claimant satisfies
this first step, and there is no evidence of malingering, the
ALJ can reject the claimant's testimony about the
severity of symptoms only by offering specific, clear and
convincing reasons for doing so. See id.
“[O]nce the claimant produces objective medical
evidence of an underlying impairment, an adjudicator may not
reject a claimant's subjective complaints based solely on
a lack of objective medical evidence to fully corroborate the
alleged severity of pain.” Bunnell v.
Sullivan, 947 F.2d 341, 345 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc).
2018 hearing before the ALJ, Plaintiff testified that she
takes about an hour to get out of bed, reads to her children,
and assists her husband with minor chores. See AR
35. She testified that she does laundry but does not do any
chores that involves lifting or exertion. See id.
She testified that she can only stand 20 minutes at a time
and sits 60 percent of the day. See AR 36.
found that Plaintiff's medically determinable impairments
could be reasonably expected to produce Plaintiff's
alleged symptoms, but found Plaintiff's testimony about
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of the
symptoms were inconsistent with “medical evidence and
other evidence in the record for the reasons explained in
this decision.” AR 20. The ALJ found that the medical
evidence, lack of compliance with her prescribed treatment,
and evidence of Plaintiff's medical improvement did not
support Plaintiff's testimony about her limitations.
See id. The Commissioner argues the ALJ also found
that Plaintiff's daily activities did not support
Plaintiff's testimony about her limitations. See
JS at 12.
properly weighed the medical evidence and found that the
evidence was not consistent with Plaintiff's subjective
symptom testimony. “Although lack of medical evidence
cannot form the sole basis for discounting pain testimony, it
is a factor that the ALJ can consider in his ...