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Riddles v. Saul

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 30, 2019

JENNIFER LYNN RIDDLES, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          JOHN E. MCDERMOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         PROCEEDINGS

         On February 12, 2019, Jennifer Lynn Riddles (“Plaintiff” or “Claimant”) filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's application for Title II Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). (Dkt. 1.) The Commissioner filed an Answer on May 20, 2019. (Dkt. 14.) On August 16, 2019, the parties filed a Joint Submission (“JS”). (Dkt. 16.) The matter is now ready for decision.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed bef ore this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record (“AR”), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this case dismissed with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a 56 year-old female who applied for Title II Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits on June 9, 2015, alleging disability beginning June 1, 2014. (AR 19.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of June 1, 2014, through her date last insured of December 31, 2016. (AR 21.)

         Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on January 7, 2016. (AR 19.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Mason D. Harrell, Jr., on February 13, 2018, in San Bernardino, California. (AR 19.) Plaintiff appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (AR 19.) Vocational expert (“VE”) Jeff Komar also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 19.)

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 9, 2018. (AR 19-26.) The Appeals Council denied review on December 19, 2018. (AR 1-3.)

         DISPUTED ISSUES

         As reflected in the Joint Submission, Plaintiff only raises the following disputed issue as ground for reversal and remand:

         1. Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's right ankle injury.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

         Substantial evidence means “‘more than a mere scintilla,' but less than a preponderance.” Saelee v. Chater,94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales,402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is ‚Äúsuch relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a ...


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