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Gilding v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 26, 2019

ALBERT GILDING, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER & FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying an application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”). For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned will recommend that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be denied and the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, born in 1959, applied on December 9, 2014 for disability and disability benefits under Title II, alleging disability beginning July 23, 2014. Administrative Transcript (“AT”) 11, 18, 189-195. Plaintiff alleged he was unable to work due to anxiety disorder. AT 218. In a decision dated July 18, 2017, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled.[1] AT 11-20. The ALJ made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 23, 2014, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: Depression, anxiety, and asthma.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: He cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. He is not able to work at unprotected heights. He must avoid concentrated exposure to dust, gases, chemicals, pulmonary irritants, etc. Mentally, he can perform simple repetitive tasks with no public interaction. He can occasionally have noncollaborative interactions with co-workers.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on XX/XX/1959 and was 55 years old, which is defined as an individual of advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has at least a high-school education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is ‘not disabled,' whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.

AT 13-19.

         ISSUES PRESENTED

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ committed the following error in finding plaintiff not disabled: The ALJ's finding that plaintiff had the mental RFC to perform simple repetitive tasks with specified limitations in interacting with others, is not supported by substantial evidence.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         The court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). It means “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). “The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities.” Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “The court will uphold the ALJ's conclusion when the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation.” Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008).

         The record as a whole must be considered, Howard v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986), and both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion weighed. See Jones v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court may not affirm the ALJ's decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Id.; see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence supporting a finding of either disability or nondisability, the finding of the ALJ is conclusive, see Sprague v. Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987), and may be set aside only if an improper legal standard was applied in weighing the evidence. See Burkhart v. Bowen, 856 F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988).

         ANALYSIS

         Before turning to plaintiff's claim, the undersigned notes the ...


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