United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER RE: CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT RE: DKT.
NOS. 21, 22
JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Earnie Williamson seeks social security benefits for a
variety of physical and mental impairments including PTSD,
gout, arthritis, poor circulation, chronic back and knee
pain, and hearing loss. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) 62, 242, 1022.) Pursuant to 42 U.S.C
§ 405(g), Plaintiff filed this lawsuit for judicial
review of the final decision by the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying his benefits
claim. Now before the Court are Plaintiff's and
Defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 21
& 22.) Because the decision of the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to deny benefits
is supported by substantial evidence and otherwise free of
legal error, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion and
GRANTS Defendant's cross-motion.
filed applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplement security income, under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (the “Act”) on October 21,
2014 alleging a disability onset date of June 2, 2014. (AR
16, 177.) His applications were denied both initially and
upon reconsideration. (AR 16.) Plaintiff then submitted a
written request for a hearing before an ALJ and his hearing
was held before Judge Arthur Zeidman on February 7, 2017. (AR
35.) On August 16, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding
that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 16-29.) The ALJ found
that Plaintiff's only severe impairment was fracture of
the left knee and that he did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one
of the listed impairments. (AR 18-22.) The ALJ then
determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of
medium work with certain limitations. (AR 22.) The ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled because he was
capable of performing his past relevant work as a janitor, as
well as other jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy. (AR 28.)
filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision which
was denied on June 8, 2018 making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. (AR 1-3.) After the
Appeals Council denied review, Plaintiff sought review in
this Court. (Dkt. 1.) In accordance with Civil Local Rule
16-5, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment
(Dkt. Nos. 21, 22), which are now ready for decision without
the ALJ err in finding that Plaintiff only had one severe
the ALJ err in giving the greatest weight to the medical
opinions of the consultative examiner and non-examining state
agency medical consultants, and giving little weight to
Plaintiff's treating source opinion?
the ALJ err in formulating Plaintiff's RFC and finding
that he did not meet Social Security Grid Rule 202.04?
claimant is considered “disabled” under the
Social Security Act if he meets two requirements.
See 42 U.S.C. § 423(d); Tackett v.
Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999). First, the
claimant must demonstrate “an inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C § 423(d)(1)(A). Second, the
impairment or impairments must be severe enough that he is
unable to do his previous work and cannot, based on his age,
education, and work experience “engage in any other
kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). To determine
whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is required to employ
a five-step sequential analysis, examining: (1) whether the
claimant is engaging in “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
medically determinable physical or mental impairment”
or combination of impairments that has lasted for more than
12 months; (3) whether the impairment “meets or
equals” one of the listings in the regulations; (4)
whether, given the claimant's “residual function
capacity, ” (“RFC”) the claimant can still
do her “past relevant work”' and (5) whether
the claimant “can make an adjustment to other
work.” Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9th Cir. 2012); see also 20 C.R.F.
ALJ's “decision to deny benefits will only be
disturbed if it is not supported by substantial evidence or
it is based on legal error.” Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). “Substantial
evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
“Where evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, it is the ALJ's conclusion that
must be upheld.” Id. In other words, if the
record “can reasonably support either affirming or
reversing, the reviewing court may not substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner.” Gutierrez
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 740 F.3d 519, 523 (9th Cir.
2014) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
However, “a decision supported by substantial evidence
will still be set aside if the ALJ does not apply proper
legal standards.” Id.
The ALJ's Determination regarding ...